Fellow Movie Lovers
THE YOUNG VICTORIA & BROKEN EMBRACES
Never I have seen two movies in a twenty-four hour span that were so deliciously satiating; comparable to a titillating, palate- pampering dining experience, each exquisite swallow, gone but not forgotten.
THE YOUNG VICTORIA
The beguiling Emily Blount (The Devil Wears Prada) captures the innocence, grace and metal of the seventeen year old queen to be. Rupert Friend (Pride & Prejudice) is aptly cast as Albert, her cousin and suitor. Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind) gives a superb performance as Lord Melbourne, the politically adroit advisor to the inexperienced Queen.
Sara Ferguson adds a royal touch as a producer.
Julian Fellows (actor turned screen writer) won the Oscar for Gosford Park and will rank once again, among the contenders for this finely tuned piece of scripting.
Victoria and Albert both born in 1819; married in 1840; and with impressive fecundity produced nine children while ruling jointly over England’s economic and imperial expansion for twenty years.
This film is glorious to look at; the manicured English gardens, sculptured to perfection; the luscious opulence of the palaces; wardrobes and jewels glisten with excessive and stunning wealth.
Primarily this is a love story. Victoria as Queen must propose to the man of her choice and this is a scene that transcends their positions; two people who rise above the awkwardness and embrace as any loving couple would.
They also suffer the tensions of the first year of marriage: pregnancy, his role as the Queen’s husband and striving to come to terms with everyday life together.
The viewer will relate and rejoice as these trials are resolved.
As the film reached it conclusion, I silently screamed NO! Does this mean I have to leave? I stayed and watched every credit, the lights came on and the cleaning crew politely worked around me, until with dreaded alacrity I departed.
This is the fourth and most successful pairing of Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz.
A partnership reminiscent of Pygmalion/Aphrodite, Svengali/Tilby, Professor Higgins/Eliza Doolittle. In the case of Almodovar and Cruz it has been mutually beneficial to both parties.
Penelope Cruz is rapturous, luminescent and at the peak of her powerful career; she is totally captivating and believable as Lena, the sprite who inspires love and obsession. It is a magical performance. She seems much more comfortable in her native tongue; audiences often feel that the character is diminished by an accent. She proved audiences wrong in garnishing the academy award for best supporting actress in Vicky, Cristina,
I was emotionally ambushed from the first line. Without exception every character exudes humanness, flawed but genuine to the core. Mateo (aka Harry Caine) is given a depth of such magnitude by Lluis Homar that you empathize but not pity the man from the initial humorous moment.
Blanca Portillo as Judit is outstanding, she possess and controls and dominates every scene she appears in. Watching her was heart rendering. She is the glue that holds the story together; her catharsis is revolutionary in its candidness.
The story is unveiled in a series of flashbacks over a fourteen year period. It involves a love triangle, jealousy, and lessons in human fragility. The intimate scenes are passionate but not lewd; even hilarious and fraught with levity. There was not a maudlin or manipulative moment in this spectacular film.
Ultimately it is Penelope Cruz who takes full ownership for the success and vitality of Broken Embraces. There is one fleeting moment when she passes a Matisse like painting and her beauty matches and surpasses the work of art.
Leaving I realized with rarefied and painful clarity that all embraces are ephemeral and doomed to be broken.
Caveat. For those of you who missed The Hurt Locker, it has been re-released. It is one of the best non-documentary war stories ever told. Kathryn Bigelow’s genius should be recognized by the Academy in the spring. It is a four star must see!