Thursday, February 04, 2010


Stiffer than the corsets

By Edward Copeland
Costume dramas need not be well-dressed bores — honest. I know because I've seen them. One of the producers of The Young Victoria, Martin Scorsese, even made one called The Age of Innocence. For some reason though, the sets are dressed, the performers are clothed and instead of a compelling tale resulting, too often rigor mortis sets in, as if everyone fears dramatic action will somehow start tearing seams asunder. Alas, this is the case with The Young Victoria.

Emily Blunt takes on the early years of England's longest-reigning monarch, surrounded by a schemer, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), who hopes to usurp her path to the throne, thinking she's too young and longing for the power, aided by Victoria's mother (Miranda Richardson). Meanwhile, the film also depicts the romance between Victoria and Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) that led to marriage and nine children.

With all this story, this cast (which also includes Jim Broadbent and Paul Bettany) and a script by Oscar winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), you'd think it couldn't miss, but boy does it. Aside from some sparks from Strong and Blunt, everything plays at the quietest, slowest, dullest level. As my mind frequently wandered, I kept wanting Blunt to age into Judi Dench-widowhood and meet Billy Connolly so I could watch Mrs. Brown again.

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I'll wait for the DVD. I'm surprised it's as you described because Jean-Marc Vallee's previous film, C.R.A.Z.Y. went into all sorts of unexpected places, and was quite good.
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