The Young Victoria

screen capture3 194x300 - The Young VictoriaTo look at The Young Victoria for historical accuracy would be the wrong way to approach it. Screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) admits to taking dramatic license in many places for effect. And it is effective as a coming of age love story set inside that gilded cage known as the British monarchy. The story begins with 17 year-old Victoria a heartbeat away from being crowned Queen, as her mother, the scheming Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), along with her power hungry advisor (Mark Strong) attempt to set up a regency thereby taking power themselves until she is 25. (Mark Strong is also the villain in Sherlock Holmes, set in the same time period. Hmmm.) They control her every move, making someone walk her up and down the stairs, deciding what she can and cannot read, making sure that she is kept away from her uncle the King, everything designed to dominate her. But she is strong enough to resist them, though she falls instead under the control of Prime Minister Lord Melbourne.

Of course, any woman who is to be Queen of England is bait for the royal houses of Europe and soon enough Leopold of Belgium is sending his nephews to pay her a visit in hopes of uniting their houses and gaining some political leverage. Happily, young Albert (Rupert Friend) takes a shine to his cousin Victoria and the attraction is mutual. And while the politics of her life swirl around her, they flirt, write and finally get married. And at its core that is what The Young Victoria is all about — a great love. History has many proofs of Victoria’s undying devotion for Albert; the Albert Hall is just one of many monuments she dedicated to him after he died.

The first part of The Young Victoria may seem like a lot of exposition, and if you’ve watched many movies about the monarchy, it might seem a bit clichéd. But once Albert enters the picture, the film picks up. He takes her out of her proscribed life and gives her some joy. They make a happy, lovely couple. Albert is serious, thoughtful, smart and the kind of man Victoria needs. But of course, having been controlled by people her whole life, she doesn’t give him power easily. The film only covers the first part of their lives together. One only wonders what happened next.

Emily Blunt is wonderful as Victoria, displaying small hints of her inner personality while staying in her role as the young princess/queen; she takes the required arm down the stairs, but defiantly hops with both feet at the last step. And Rupert Friend gives Albert a warmth below his seriousness that makes him endearing. I would recommend this to people who enjoy a period piece, or those who would like a peek inside the palaces of British royalty. It is a nice love story, too.

For the historically accurate view click here.

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