The Young Victoria isn’t the first movie of its kind, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It seems like every few years there’s another monarch they bring out and give the big screen treatment to. While some of them just sort of blend together, The Young Victoria manages to stand out from the rest.
If you’ve seen the trailers you might go into the theater expecting a different movie. The previews make it look like it’s filled with double-crossings and political intrigue, much like Elizabeth, or Newsies. And in the beginning, at least, that’s what you get. Mark Strong as Sir John Conroy and Miranda Richardson as the Duchess of Kent serve as the film’s baddies, trying to wrestle power away from Victoria as she’s still trying to find her way in this new life. So you settle in expecting to see this for the rest of movie when suddenly things shift focus and Victoria’s relationship and marriage to Prince Albert takes center stage. And while I really liked that aspect of it, it takes almost all the tension out of the film. I mean, we know the two end up together. Screenwriter Julian Fellowes took a few creative liberties to inject some unpredictability into his script.
So the film goes from political intrigue to love story, and while it does make things seem a little uneven, that second half is just as enjoyable to watch as the first. Like I said, we know they end up together, so you’re able to just sit back and enjoy it. Blunt delivers much more than a one-note performance, and clearly shows that she’s capable of taking the reigns as a leading lady. Watching her run around as a newlywed, kissing her husband and generally being in love isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but you find yourself smiling at the entire thing almost despite yourself. You’re kind of sucked in from start to stop. Rupert Friend as Prince Albert is subdued. He offers a powerful performance almost without you knowing it, and could probably be considered the film’s secret weapon.
Emily Blunt takes a role, the English monarch, that’s really never a sure thing. With it having been done so many times, this kind of movie can really be hit or miss, but she makes it her own. From the very beginning, she makes the character relatable. We see the sheltered young princess, unsure of herself, yet who decides at an early age that she won’t be deterred from what she sees as her birthright. We see her slowly transform into the benevolent queen, searching for her equal, and eventually finding it in her husband. Yet there’s still an assumption on her part that, as the queen, she is the more equal of the two. It’s all a lot of fun to watch, and I’m hoping this one gets more attention than I think it will. Definitely recommended.