Victor Victoria Reviews
Julie Andrews has been nominated for three Academy Awards in her life, all for different musicals. She won for the first which was the magnificent Disney classic Mary Poppins and was nominated again the following year for the Best Picture winner The Sound of Music which I found dreadful. The point is, Julie Andrews' best talent is in musical films as she has made abundantly clear over many years, and so Victor Victoria is a film that I had high expectations for.
The script in Victor Victoria makes an interesting point of challenging gender roles. There is one particular moment where King Marchand fails to become convinced as to the notion that Count Victor Grazinksi is actually a man because he found himself attracted to him which in his eyes would not be possible unless it were a woman. He represents the masculine male stereotype, and his sexuality becomes entirely confused when there is the slightest possibility of him being a homosexual. Victor Victoria pokes clever fun at the concept of male sexuality by looking into the insecurities of one of its characters and putting humorous emphasis on it, as well as examining the plutonic relationship between a heterosexual woman and a homosexual man who have joined forces for a business proposition. Victor Victoria is an interesting look at sexuality and gender roles without being too political about everything so that it remains insightful but slick and silly at the same time. So the screenplay in Victor Victoria is a very clever and insightful one, but more importantly it gives a really funny concept to the film and fills it with comically valuable situations and clever dialogue which supples a lot of material for the cast to be working with.
On the surface, Victor Victoria has a very wacky concept. The idea of a woman pretending to be a man impersonating a woman is just ridiculous and is a new level of silliness for musical cinema. Thanks to Blake Edwards' firm and passionate direction, the material is handled excellently and the film is a stylish romp. Considering that the material of the film is so glamourous, it needs strong art direction to tie it together, and Blake Edwards manages to make sure that it succeeds in terms of both style and storytelling. While the qualiy of the story and the pace slows down significantly in the second half, the film still remains interesting and its style is consistent with colour.
Thanks to exceptional production design and great scenery, everything in Victor Victoria looks great. It is colourful and gives off a real nightlife feeling while being captured with strong and appropriate cinematography, and it matches the sexual energy of the film to project a very glamourous atmosphere. And combined with some great musical numbers and a wonderful score, everything in the tale feels appropriately atmospheric and captures the glitz and glam of Paris theatre.
And on top of it all is the talents of a magnificent cast to sell it all.
Julie Andrews is really the most admirable asset of Victor Victoria, as she is with essentially every musical film she plays the lead role in. Her charm is spot on once again and her singing voice is exceptional as well as the fact that she is able to easily dance around with organic spirit, but most importantly, the leading role in Victor Victoria is an interesting spin on the more famous roles she has taken on. Though she is by no means vulgar, she has an edge to her this time because she gets caught up in the seduction and the sexuality of the musical and sticks it out through all the material from start to finish in a hilarious performance which is one of the finest of her career. It is a hilarious performance which sees her put herself through all kinds of comical situations and come out shining on the other side each time, and she expresses a clearly deep and meaningful understanding of the material as it all unfolds on screen, and her giddy energetic charm is undeniably an asset. Julie Andrews takes on the complex material in Victor Victoria with ease and you could expect nothing less from her because she tackles the lead role of Victoria Grant / Count Victor Grazinksi with passionate ambition and determination, so it is no surprise just what extent she succeeds at.
Robert Preston gives the best performance of his career in Victor Victoria. His performance is unforgettable because the entire film he is very confidently flamboyant without going over the top. He reminds me a lot of Liberace without the flashy costumes because he is so clear about expressing his sexuality. He is hilarious in the role and so likable because his character is compelling and genuine. I can tell that Robert Preston is just acting, but he acts so confidently and fearlessly in the part, delivering all of his lines with the perfect level of flamboyance which walks a fine line between subtle and flash. Robert Preston is immensely perfect in Victor Victoria and gives a performance worth nothing short of an Academy Award Nomination.
James Garner is great in Victor Victoria because of the character development he puts into his role. He plays a heavily masculine male archetype who is stuck with a sense of ridiculous delusion about what sexuality is, and he portrays the part without reducing it to simply a one-dimensional stereotype. He doesn't go too deeply into the role, but he doesn't have to because James Garner's natural charm and sophisticated charisma make him a terrific comedic star in Victor Victoria. He shares a very interesting chemistry with Julie Andrews as well, and so his presence in the cast is just terrific.
Lesley Ann Warren is merciless in how she portrays the ditzy blond stereotype, and it plays off as a serious benefit for the film because she is not subtle about it at all. Capturing a Marilyn Monroe type of character , Lesley Ann Warren captures the empty head of the archetype, the magnificent talent for singing and dancing and a distinct lack of subtlety in her sex appeal. She really takes the chance to show herself off by flaunting herself out there without fear, and her role is full of such giddy energy and sexiness that it is completely unforgettable, and while her character is not too key to the story, the impact made my Lesley Ann Warren is just perfect.
Alex Karras also makes a nice touch.
So although Victor Victoria is not always direct with its narrative, the hilarious script, stylish direction from Blake Edwards and excellent performances of the cast make it a wonderful musical romp.