The Young Victoria
The challenge of a film like this one is that it’s very hard to be everything at once. You can either make a highly detailed historical film that includes all the important details of a monarch’s life, or you can choose a key part of that life and magnify it into a whole story. In this case screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) went with the latter, giving us a rich love story at the start of the Victorian era.
Victoria (Emily Blunt) was an exceptional young woman who entered the monarchy with all the petulance of her teenage years. Refusing to sign away her rights to her mother’s advisor, she stumbles through her first years trying to find her way. Her greatest challenges immediately are the potential suitors that are being pressed upon her, but Victoria is determined that although she is a woman, she will rule alone. But eventually she does fall for one of those suitors – Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) who is being pressed upon her as a way to protect Belgian interests. When he shows her the utmost respect and is willing to be her confidant and her equal, Victoria’s heart melts and she opens her world to love. What follows is a brief recap of their first years together.
If I could sum up the movie in one word, it would be “charm.” Emily Blunt is lovely, dynamic and witty as Victoria. She is well-balanced by the quiet and magnetic Rupert Friend as Albert. Their love story is a joy ride that you don’t want to end – completely believable. The cast includes fine actors like Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson, but the man who steals the show is Jim Broadbent as King William.
The direction by Jean-Marc Vallée is both sumptuous and confusing. Some of his choices for camera shots are simply arresting – like a banquet table being set, or the final tableau of the Queen and King entering a ball. But others make no sense and the editing at times is abrupt in a way that is noticeable and therefore distracting.
But overall this is a delightful film. If you’re hoping for a strong history of Queen Victoria, this isn’t the movie for you. But if you enjoy a good love story, then I think you’ll agree with me that this film deserves a B+.