The Young Victoria
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Cast: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent
Running Time: 1 hr 59 mins
Release Date: December 25, 2009
PLOT: A young girl (Blunt) is caught between two ruling uncles, the King of England and the King of Belgium. Destined to be Queen, the regency order is there to keep her out of power until it’s decided she isn’t too young anymore.
WHO’S IT FOR? Period piece. Did you just get excited? This early 1800’s film is a powerful piece of historical drama that I was unaware of, and it should please those who are still too excited by the mention of “period piece.”
Victoria, as a young child, is never given a reason for her isolation. So you can see how how she could be socially stunted. This is a soap opera of Kings, Queens and royalty which always makes for a rich subject matter.
Victoria grows into a young woman, but her mother is dead set at keeping her close, that way, she too will be able to join in Victoria’s future royalty. When Prince Albert (Friend) enters the picture it seems we are headed to a normal back-stabbing, love setup but we’re quickly through that plot twist when Victoria calls him out. Suddenly, Albert finds himself in love, and is willing to be patient to have Victoria return the favor.
Everything is so tight and controlled in Blunt’s performance, it’s then more amazing when she gives us a smile or laugh. One problems comes though with the film never making the case for why Victoria is aware of everyone’s secret agenda of manipulating her … except Lord Melboure (Bettany). Melbourne is yet another who would like a place of power near the future queen. Perhaps even her hand in marriage. Is one conversation about her father really enough? I needed more of a reason to understand why Victoria wanted Melbourne’s advice, and chastised others for giving it.
And on the side there is King William (Jim Broadbent) … “Enjoy the veal,” he says. Broadbent continues a great track record as an off-beat side character who steals the show. A drunken King William shouts off Victoria’s mother in perhaps the most memorable scene in the film.
There’s just so many friends, family, and enemies to keep track of in the plotting of the future Queen. At one point in the beginning, there is a birth chart, and eventually it had me thinking that a flow chart would be a great asset. If we could only magically pause this in the theater and a flow chart of who’s who would pop up, reexplaining who all these people are.
We do get some tiny tidbits along with the way, like Queen Victoria being the first to live in Buckingham Palace. And for a super tiny detail, I am convinced that yo-yo was CGI. Tisk tisk, old man for not diving into your craft and learning the art of the yo.
The joy of the film is watching Albert be a willing pawn. The love story slowly develops between Victoria and Albert. Actually, let’s remove Victoria for a second. Albert breathes life into this film more than anyone else. Even when dealing with mundane details like how the palace is run. And who would have thought an assassination attempt would bring everything to a new, exciting light.
This is Blunt’s chance to follow in the footsteps of Gwenyth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway and Keira Knightley in becoming a leading lady in a period piece, but it seems to wrap up just a little too quickly. Then again, it is called The Young Victoria so we can’t expect too many years.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10