I’ve seen about five films in a row without posting any notes on here, so they’ll be necessarily brief. But that’s okay, there’s not too much to say about this really. It has sumptuous costumes and settings, is well acted in the main by some top European actors (and we should be thankful that Keira Knightly wasn’t asked to portray the overweight monarch) and has a vaguely diverting story by the almost excellently named Julian Fellowes. But it’s just a bit crap. Costume dramas tend to be, perhaps it’s the period detail that distracts but I think it’s more likely that the authentically stilted dialogue works against the building up of suspense or drama or intrigue unless it is really, really well written and rendered (as in David Lean’s Great Expectations) for example.
Apart from that, there is always the problem- when making a biopic about a period of someone’s life- about how to ensure that you leave nothing unresolved. Life simply isn’t like that and only death can really finalise matters in the way that suits a movie. This issue is dealt with here by having half of the bad guys sent away and the remainder repenting having seen Albert take a bullet aimed at Victoria and realising that he’s more of a brainbox, hero and all-round nice guy than the conniving German sausage they had originally taken him for. Simplistic and unsatisfying, especially in the case of Paul Bettany who had built his character’s wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing persona beautifully until he had to simply front up that Albert was tops with him. Albert, by the way, seems to have hair that changes colour from one scene to the next. I’ll put it down to my eyesight but it could just be that it was inconsistently dyed or managed over the course of the shooting of the film.
So anyway, Emily Blunt is passable in the lead role (if miscast physically), Jim Broadbent- who has previously played the role of Albert- has a nice cameo with a great King William quiff, Miranda Richardson underplays the role of wicked Mother well and Mark Strong is both brooding and boring as the thoroughly 2D bad-guy Sir John Conroy. The whole thing is passably directed and the cinematography (by Hagen Bogdanski, the guy who did The Lives of Others) is markedly hit-and-miss, doing the easy things badly and the hard things well.
So it’s better than I expected but, if I’m honest, still a failure. But a very pretty one. With some nice wigs and pairs of trousers on display throughout. It isn’t quite the sum of it’s parts, but it will do nice business at the Box Office. No-one’s career will be any the worse for it and everyone’s happy. Moderate ambitions, moderate achievement. 5/10