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The Young Victoria
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Movie Details

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Directed By
Jean-Marc Vallée

Written By:
Julian Fellowes

Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong, Jesper Christensen, Harriet Walter, Jeanette Hain, Julian Glover, Michael Maloney, Michiel Huisman, Rachael Stirling, Morven Christie, Josef Altin, Tom Brooke, Robert Cambrinus, Tom Fisher, Shaun Dingwall, David Horovitch, Jo Hartley, Iain Mitchell, Richard Quine, Peter White, Tony Jeeves, James Fiddy, Genevieve O'Reilly, Michaela Brooks, Grace Smith, Sophie Roberts, Charlie Clarke, Alice Glover, Bernard Lloyd, Johnnie Lyne-Pirkis, David Robb, Malcolm Sinclair, Thomas Michael Voss, Julie McDonnell, Liam Scott, Mark Beesley, Nick Chopping, Kelly Dent, Mark Henson, Dominic Preece, Princess Beatrice, Danny Dalton, James Fiddy, Ruth Leah, Stephen Ralphs, Rowley Irlam, Len Woodcock

The Young Victoria (2009)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
December 25th, 2009

The early life of Queen Victoria is imagined here as a lavish costume drama by French director Jean-Marc Vallee; her reign was one of the longest and most productive in British history, and she took the throne in 1837, and remained there until her death in 1901. She presided over an ever-changing England, as it embraced industrialization, and continued to expand its empire. The movie is not as richly detailed or as interesting as Elizabeth, which showed the England Elizabeth inherited from her older sister, the infamous Bloody Mary, who in turn inherited from her father, Henry VIII. Victoria inherits a calmer, stabler, more secure England, an England that prevailed over Spain, repeatedly thwarted the French, and stood as the uncontested master of Europe, particularly in terms of economic power.

We witness the maturation of Victoria (Emily Blunt), but do not see the makings of a great monarch, one who would defy those seeking to control her, and asserting her independence. This happens eventually, but when first designated as the successor to King William (Jim Broadbent), her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and the male head of her household, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) intend to manipulate her into signing papers that would make them regents, granting them the authority to make decisions on her behalf, and rule the country in her stead.

She refuses, and both of these characters are gradually marginalized, as the film seems unconcerned with their other schemes, their attempts to remind Victoria of her loyalties, and what they perceive as her duties. The film then shifts its focus to her romance with Prince Albert (Rupert Friend), sent from Germany to gain influence over her, by possibly seducing or marrying her. She does become vulnerable to the ideas and opinions of her cunning prime minister, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany). Her uncle, and trusted advisor, is King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann).

Vallee and screenwriter Julian Fellowes demonstrate a commitment to historical accuracy, and offer an authentic representation of the period. The most intriguing elements of pictures like this, of which Elizabeth is perhaps one of the finest examples, involve political conspiracies and plenty of backstabbing, but all of that is pushed into the background by Fellowes, in favor of the relationship between Albert and Victoria, which comes across as tepid, as there is not much chemistry between Blunt and Friend.

Blunt's performance is unfortunately rather bland; her fiery and energetic personality strangely subdued. Friend is even more boring than Blunt, meeting the expectations of his role but never exceeding them. The supporting cast is filled with talented actors, with an especially notable Broadbent, but they disappear before we can truly appreciate them. Better to go with the previously mentioned Elizabeth, or Mrs. Brown, with Judi Dench, as an older, and wiser Victoria.

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