Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Oct 20th
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

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay