June 1, 2010

Justify My Netflix: The Young Victoria

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

The Young Victoria

Today's movie: The Young Victoria, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because it sounded like a film that'd be right up my alley, a lush historical drama about the turmoil surrounding the start of Queen Victoria's long reign, back in the early 1800s when the world was transitioning from the Enlightenment to...well, the Victorian Age.

The reality: "All hail Queen Elizabeth! ...Er, Victoria! I meant Victoria! I didn't mean Elizabeth at all! Please don't sue us, Shekhar Kapur!" I kid, of course, but the fact is that this movie quite nakedly aspires to be the kind of stylish bonnet-porn of Kapur's much-loved 1998 Elizabeth, all the way down to stealing many elements from the former -- including lots of symmetrical formalism in the cinematography, plenty of MTV-style quick cuts during expository scenes, a wry modern sensibility to much of the dialogue, a hunky dark-goateed villain who goes around throwing wine goblets into mirrors and the like, and even an actor playing Victoria's husband Prince Albert who looks curiously like Joseph Fiennes, and who spends most of the movie being all sensitive and emo and sh-t. But unfortunately, what works in that first movie mostly fails here; because, you know, it's Queen Freaking Victoria, a homely woman in real life who was the literal definition of dowdy social conservatism, making this bodice-ripping reductionist treatment of her youth much more eye-rolling than pleasing, and especially when you add the inexplicably hot Emily Blunt playing a woman who was expressly known for not being very good-looking, who in fact used to deliberately exploit this element herself for political advantage. (In fact, you can chalk up many of this film's problems to the fact that it takes place in a time when photography had already been invented, thus making its visual liberties that much more glaring, a problem that Kapur's 1600s-set Elizabeth didn't face.) It's a silly waste of time, one that attempts to turn the political complexities of the early 19th century into a chick-lit potboiler, and it's not recommended at all today.

Strangest piece of trivia: The bed seen in this movie's honeymoon scene was actually slept in by the real Queen Victoria in 1843.

Worth your time? Not at all

Filed by Jason Pettus at 4:58 PM, June 1, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |