Friday, January 1, 2010

Review: 'The Young Victoria' [C]

By Chase Kahn

Not even the young and vibrant and on-form Emily Blunt can save Jean-Marc Vallee's "The Young Victoria," a flashy, misbegotten bullet-point film about the early days of Queen Victoria's rule, from feeling wobbly and innocuously traverse.

Lacking the veritable grace and transportative immediacy of period/costume dramas that work, "The Young Victoria," with its tale of family politics and royal inadequacy by way of youth, is so condensed and hopelessly unfocused that it hardly even registers.

46-year old Frenchman Jean-Marc Vallee and cinematographer Hagen Bogdanski go heavy on the tricks - including a dolly shot of Ms. Blunt "floating" across the ballroom floor - but the more it tries, the more it sinks. Screenwriter Julian Fellowes may have wanted to limit his scope, for even focusing on the early years of Queen Victoria's rule, his script (and the subsequent film) feels edgeless and unbalanced - in a hurry at all times, using montages and jump-cuts to full advantage.

Perhaps a bit more immediacy could have brought some life to this drab, yet preppy and flamboyant production. Although Ms. Blunt tries her hardest to make the young, deceptively strong Queen a sympathetic figure, her story, nor her love for the soon-to-be Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) can make an impression.

"The Young Victoria" shares all the heart and plasticity of previous failings such as "The Duchess" or "The Other Boelyn Girl." Accidentally, it provides ample evidence for why I may have underestimated Jane Campion's elegant "Bright Star."

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