Movie Review Rewind: Young Victoria (2009)
Victoria was the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and was even the first Empress of India of the British Raj. That is quite a few titles for a woman who became Queen at the age of 18. But her reign lasted over 63 years, which is longer than any other British monarch. Ever. And the longest reign of any female monarch in history.
The Young Victoria is about her early years as a teenager and when she became Queen during a time now known as the Victorian era. If you remember anything from history, you know who she falls in love and the decisions she made while Queen. But this film tells you a story you may not be familiar with or know at all. The struggles she had as a child and the obstacles she encountered while not only being a teenager, but a Queen as well.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée‘s silken historical drama begins with her mother, The Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and the controlling Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) wanting Victoria (Emily Blunt) to sign over all of her power because it’s in her best interest. In actuality, he means in his best interest.
Victoria is next in line after her uncle, King William (Jim Broadbent), who is past his prime and only getting older. So Sir Conroy hopes Victoria’s uncle will die before she turns 18 and her mother can appoint him to rule in her place. As history tells us, we know this does not happen. Her uncle dies due to heart failure and Victoria becomes Queen, and many begin to question her and take advantage of her. But she gets the last laugh.
Before her reign, Victoria was locked in the castle and feels like a prisoner. Even when she is 18 years old, her hand still has to be held when going down the stairs. She has been sheltered and cut off from the rest of the world. But Victoria changes everything when she becomes Queen. She makes changes concerning her mother and Sir Conroy, and who her husband shall be.
King Leopold of Belgium hopes she will marry his son Albert (Rupert Friend). However, Albert does not want to be used, but is preached about what she likes and does not like and is sent to meet her and win her over. And Victoria is a smart woman and knows his “interests” are really not his at all. However, once they break down that wall, a love starts to blossom. And soon they are writing each other frequently, and decisions and feelings continue back and forth between the two.
They seem perfect for each other. There are no lies between Victoria and Albert. He does not want to take advantage of her or to improve his status. However, that is exactly what Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) wants to do. He is a politician first and friend second. And there is an attraction between Lord Melbourne and Victoria. Melbourne is charming and seems to have all the right answers, and he gains Victoria’s trust. But after a decision that puts the country in an uproar, Victoria begins to make her own decisions and have her own thoughts and goals.
Again, history tells us the man she chose and the relationship they had until he died in 1861. For the next forty years she mourned his death and wore black for the rest of her days. But you will have to see the film or look it up to see who this man is, but you can probably already guess can’t you?
Blunt delivers a grand performance as Victoria. The actress is talented and beautiful, and plays the title character in an intelligent and emotional way. Victoria was a force to be reckon with and resented authority. She was a rebel in her time and to prove it, she chose who she married instead of being told who she will marry. And Blunt is a force to be reckon with after two great performances last year with this film and Sunshine Cleaning earlier in 2009.
The Young Victoria has great costumes and set pieces. Most of those pieces are real, which makes it even more spectacular to look at. It always seems like these period films have fascinating locations and clothes. It never fails. Perhaps nothing is more stunning than seeing Buckingham Palace and Victoria became the first British monarch to live there. What a perfect time to become Queen.
And like the clothes and places, this film is something to see. It is a smooth, sophisticated film with an amazing performance by Blunt playing a girl who had to become a woman so she could be a Queen. And I am assuming she was a damn good one.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.