Movie Review: Another British Costume Drama

The Young Victoria

In most historical accounts, we see Queen Victoria as the old, record-breaking monarch dressed in mournful black. This film serves as an early account of the Queen who ruled the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland for 63 years. And we learn why she mourned for so many of those years. Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning, Devil Wears Prada) stars as the young Victoria -- whose uncle is the current, but ailing King William IV. At the film's onset, we learn how protective everyone is about the heir Victoria -- since the King and his brothers have no other viable heirs. She is so protected that even into her late teens, someone is required to hold her hand each time she navigates the stairwell of her castle. She is raised in near isolation -- with her spaniel, Dash, being her closest companion.

The film focuses on the dramatization of some of the events preceding and following Victoria's coronation at age 18, focusing on her early reign and romance with her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Rupert Friend of The Libertine, Pride and Prejudice). What first appeared to be an arranged union, later blossoms into true love. We only witness the early years of their marriage -- but we learn that his tragically early death resulted in her long, mournful reign. One thing that bothered me about the film were some obvious historical inaccuracies (I won't spoil the enhanced dramatizations -- but you can find a list on Wikipedia after you see the film). But what is lacking in story -- is made up visually in the amazingly detailed and grand sets and costumes.

As these British-themed costume dramas/period pieces go, I still prefer this year's earlier release -- Bright Star -- a bit more. This one felt a bit rushed in its storytelling. Clocking in at just over an hour-and-a-half, I didn't feel a true development of the passion between the two leads. For the first time in a long time, I actually think a film could have benefited with some added length! But Blunt and co-stars Miranda Richardson (Victoria's mother) and Jim Broadbent (King George IV) are excellent as always. Look out for Princess Beatrice of York, Victoria's great-great-great-great granddaughter, in a cameo role. Beatrice's mother, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, served as an executive producer of the film. Directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.). [Rated PG; opens today]

Grade: B


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