Tuesday Timeshift #13: Young Victoria

Can’t be bothered reading an entire review? Check out my Haiku Film Review. Otherwise keep reading!

As the metaphorical curtain came up at the end of the Young Victoria, the girls next to me said “I loved that. He is so hot”. The he in question is Rupert Friend as Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. Frankly, I couldn’t hear his name without giggling. Penis piercing anyone?

Young Victoria is Jean-Marc Vallee’s (C.R.AZ.Y.) latest family drama, a period piece about the lead up to and beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign of Britain starring Emily Blunt as the eponymous royal. Blunt is excellent throughout; beginning at wilful, charming and naive and ending at resolute, sincere and wise.

The film begins when the princess is just shy of 18 and her sickly uncle, the King is desperately clinging onto life until Victoria is old enough to take the the throne so as to avoid his despised sister-in-law, Victoria’s mother, gaining control of the throne by default. Intrigue, plotting and familial loyalty and love comes under examination – cleverly, nothing is as black and white as a child often assumes. The seemingly trusted advisor has his own agenda but that doesn’t mean his love is not genuine; regret, pride and disappointment mar the mother/daughter relationship; the beloved uncle can in turn be cruel and thoughtless to others; those we trust and who love us, do not always care about the same things we do.

Then the second half of the film gets underway and it becomes a turgid, mills & boon-esque romance. Blah blah blah. Boring. The worst part is that Young Victoria ends very suddenly with no real resolution to the issues it sets up in the first hour. There is a throw-away epilogue that speaks to the achievements Queen Victoria went on to achieve during her reign. That’s what should have been your 2nd hour of the film Monsieur Vallee! Get rid of the soppy romance and get stuck into the amazing things she did for the people of Britain. That would have been interesting. And I say to you, don’t introduce an interesting mother/daughter dynamic but go nowhere with it. F-rust-rating.

There are other problems of course which could have helped it along but this isn’t a script editing session so I’ll leave my criticisms there. In fact, I will say this, the jewellery and hats are fabulous. No kidding.

So the first half of film gets a B+ maybe even an A. The second half gets a C-. From me. For the girls next to me, it was a total winner clearly. Or maybe they’d just never heard of a lowercase “prince albert” so were able to watch the love scenes without imagining royal vaginal tearing?

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Tuesday Timeshift #12: Thirst

Can’t be bothered reading an entire review? Check out my Haiku Film Review. Otherwise keep reading!

A vampire flick from Korean director Chan-wook Park, this is a genre film that stands up to the best of them. It avoids the obvious cliche’s but instead plays up to them – there is no religious intervention, the vampire IS a priest; in a nod to the coffin, at one point the priest hides in a bedroom cupboard flipped on it’s back on the floor; the priest isn’t bitten but infected during a medical trial; he isn’t a killer but must feed or die so he only drinks if it is freely offered and never to death.

Eventually the nature of the vampire takes hold of course and the lusty priest takes a mate, Tae-joo. She is fiery, angry and takes complete ownership of every scene. She’s a fabulous victim turned vixen. In one exquisite scene, in a blindingly white white white interior of an apartment, she struts all arms and legs in an electric blue dress and stillettos; vicious, powerful and brilliantine against the monotone background. Gorgeous!

Where it falls down is in the middle. There’s so much plot shoved into it’s 133 minute running time that it actually gets a little boring about halfway in. Where it needed to ramp up, it slows – gets bogged down in the character building of Tae-joo. Park should have (apparently I’m the voice of wisdom for all film-makers *snigger*) short-handed how miserable her life is so we can get to the bit where she becomes wonderful and terrible.

In the Korean style, it’s a beautiful film to look at. I love the Korean films we get here in Australia. Even with a genre film, they never treat the script or the cinematography as irrelevant. Details are attended to and from the films I’ve seen so far, including this one, there is a strong visceral sense. Space is given to let the the small details speak, like the scary quiet that springs from nowhere when standing alone in the middle of the road at 3am.

It’s funny, it’s gleeful and a teeny bit slow but, whatever! Loved it.