Thursday, March 31, 2011

Movie Review: The Young Victoria

Admittedly, I am a history geek, and, for reasons unknown, I have a thing for the English monarchy. So, when I heard that there was a movie in the works about Queen Victoria, I was interested.


"The Young Victoria" begins about a year or so before Victoria will ascend to the throne of England. Victoria, the their to the throne, hates her restrictive life that is tightly controlled by Sir John Conroy and her submissive mother the Duchess of Kent, as she makes few public appearances and is treated like a child. Her uncle King William IV fears that if he dies before Victoria's 18th birthday then her mother and Conroy will control the throne. Meanwhile, Victoria's uncle Leopold, who is king of Belgium, wants to manipulate his niece and decides to do so through Victoria's young cousin Albert. Albert woos Victoria at his uncle's command, but he finds himself falling for her. Victoria becomes queen of England and rejects her mother and Conroy's influence, choosing to take her advice from the charming Lord Melbourne. However, this will make Victoria's reign difficult as she finds herself the target of assassination attempts and the hatred of the parliament and the people.

The story of Victoria was well-told and, from what I've read, the movie is pretty accurate. I especially enjoyed the whole complexities of the court and the political games that several of the characters played. One thing I do have against the plot is that it followed history but did not have an underlying flow to it. In other words, the plot runs between the first few years of Victoria's reign, but it seemed as if there was no real resolution. In the end, Victoria lets Albert become her greatest influence, but there is little mention of how she managed to successfully deal with her early unpopularity and her doubts about ruling. I understand all of that can't be explained in a movie that only deals with a few aspects of Victoria's life, but it would have been nice if there was a better flow with the general plot and a satisfactory ending.

The characters were also well-done. I have only seen Emily Blunt in a few films, but she did an excellent performance as Victoria, capturing both the pride and determined nature of the princess/queen as well as her vulnerable and unsure moments. Rupert Friend did well as Albert, and I liked how he transformed from a willing political pawn to an independent man. The characters were written in such a way that you either truly dislike them (like the Duchess of Kent and Conroy) or like them (like William IV or even Melbourne), and all of them behaved in ways that were consistent for that time period.

I truly enjoyed the romance between Victoria and Albert. It was truly well-written, non-sappy, and Blunt and Friend had excellent chemistry between them. Their relationship was one where you would say "awwwwwww" when they marry and then when they are reconciled after their argument. It was sad, though, when at the end of the film they mention Albert's early death and how Victoria remained loyal to him until her own end.

Another good aspect of the film was how realistic it all was. The costumes were good, and the settings of the palaces and gardens were excellent. To me, they all captured the air of nineteenth century England with no sense of modernity in them, as is the tendency to happen in recent historical films.

I truly enjoyed watching "The Young Victoria." I enjoyed its historical accuracy and the realistic characters, which are hard to find nowadays. If you are into films based off of historical events, then this is the movie for you.

I give it four out five stars.