Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Mar 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Royal Progress

film_victoriaTeen blossoms into queen in entertaining 'Young Victoria'
It's not easy being queen. Just ask the lonely, fatherless, inexperienced 18-year-old girl thrust onto the throne of England when her uncle, the king, dies, in The Young Victoria. This sumptuously mounted historical drama offers an intriguing glimpse of the youthful monarch destined to give her name to an entire age in Britain, before and after her succession to the throne, and argues the point that everyone involved in the political sphere has a few rough patches at the beginning, however beloved they might later become.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee from a script by Julian Fellowes, the film begins with Victoria's coronation in 1837, a sequence so drenched in pomp and circumstance, the very screen seems gilded.

How she got there is revealed in flashback to the previous year, when the teenage Victoria (the radiant Emily Blunt) tartly observes that "Even a palace can be a prison." She's spent most of her life secluded at a country palace with her widowed mother, the German-born Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), forbidden to attend school, or read "popular books," or even go up or down the stairs without an escort. And she's constantly bullied by John Conroy (Mark Strong), chief of her mother's household, an ambitious man with no political credentials but that the duchess is in thrall to him.

He's not the only one with designs on royal power. Conroy's plan for the duchess to be named regent on behalf of her underage daughter is blasted when garrulous King William IV (the delicious Jim Broadbent) declares at court that Victoria, alone and unaided, will be his chosen heir. Factions in Parliament led by rivals Sir Robert Peel (Michael Maloney), and the sitting prime minister, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), attempt to cozy up to the princess to gain her favor for their own agendas. And in Europe, King Leopold of the Belgians, the duchess' brother, recruits his nephew, Albert (Rupert Friend), of the tiny German province of Saxe-Coburg, to pay court to the princess.

Severely coached, Albert is awkward at first in Victoria's presence. But as soon as he ditches his script and speaks to her honestly, from the heart, they find how simpatico they are—dutiful offspring of royal pedigree with modern ideas trying to navigate the shark-infested waters of governance to achieve some good. The film's metaphor for their budding alliance is a chess game, during which Albert advises her that "the way to master the game is to learn to play it better" than those who would manipulate her— including his uncle.

But their ensuing long-distance courtship weathers some rough seas as Victoria takes charge of the ship of state. Her infatuation with Melbourne, her mentor, causes a political scandal when she's perceived to favor him over the people's choice, Peel, the newly elected prime minister. Public catcalls, rioting at the gates, even attempted violence are a shock to the young queen. Yet she shows more spine than anyone expects in dealing with her advisers and her subjects, especially in bringing her trusted correspondent and confidant, Albert, back to court as her intended betrothed.

The filmmakers wisely keep this love story front and center. Blunt's graceful, yet piquant Victoria, and the always reliable Friend as a charmingly soft-spoken, thoughtful Albert are attractive enough to keep us engaged all by themselves. But, happily, there's more going on here than a stately Masterpiece Theatre-type biopic, especially in the details of political infighting, the sometimes ludicrous rules of royal pomp, and the subtle exertion of influence at the top, be it poisonous or benign. How the coltish young Victoria  figures out how to resist manipulation, place her trust where it's deserved, and blossom into the woman and monarch she needs to become give this handsome and entertaining history lesson a modern edge.

THE YOUNG VICTORIA ★★★ Watch movie trailer >>>

With Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson. Written by Julian Fellowes. Direc

ted by Jean-Marc Valee. An Apparition release. Rated PG. 100 minutes.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals