A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria's rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.
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At The Movies
The Young Victoria (PG) * * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Power corrupts and absolute control can be quite the aphrodisiac. Back in time we travel to ye old Britain to explore the early budding of a woman destined to be a queen in The Young Victoria, a sharp fine tuned drama from Alliance Films now reaching all the right platforms at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.
Mention period pieces and few do it as well as the Brits. Let’s return to the early and middle nineteenth century to see what was going on in fabled England. Torn between two lovers aptly describes the family machinations of various pretenders to the throne. Kept away from the limelight, out of sight and out of mind is Victoria. Played stylishly by Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) it’s not hard to be in her camp. Now fatherless and with a mother from hell Victoria is literally “caged” in a palace far away from other members of her family. Standing on guard for thee though not necessarily this queen in waiting is the lord of the house, Sir John Conroy, a rather dubious sort done up in the ultimate heel tradition by a vexing Mark Strong (Body of Lies).Ooh, he does nasty real good! .
Lots of intrigue resides in our lady’s court. Plans to “influence” the next legitimate seat on the throne derive from two diverse sources. On the one hand a German relative wants to mould Victoria in his fashion and sends his young son Albert to woo her. Well acted by Rupert Friend (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) their affair is long in the making. Earlier on a love trap is set by another relative and handsome Paul Bettany (Wimbledon) scores well as the mischievous Lord Melbourne.
Any way you look at The Young Victoria you’ll be impressed by its immense style. Surely a fortune must have been spent on the set designs as the homes on display are elegant beyond belief. Trappings of wealth including lavish gardens, visits to the Opera, fine paintings and huge halls for entertaining make up just a miniscule part of this wondrous look at history. Expect at the very least a nomination for an Oscar for costuming as the attire of these women and men are truly breathtakingly beautiful.
Strong performances by one and all make The Young Victoria a shining example of history in the making. Told as a true story you can’t help but get caught up in all the palace intrigue, government revolts and competitive family branches all hoping to influence the next Queen of England. Director Jean-Mark Valleen has truly outdone himself in recapturing an era of history and fleshing it out with talented actors who carry their burdens flawlessly here.
Sparring big time occurs with these jealous folks. Scant fits of humourous rage from Jim Broadbent’s (Iris) uproarious undertaking of King William hardly shields the evil manipulations that drive this movie forward. Friend and Bettany each deserve leading man status as pivotal males battling for Victoria’s heart. Above all else Emily Blunt turns in a charming performance as the mixed up young woman hoisted into a world of politics she knows nothing of while trying to balance her own confused personal life. Despite all the wealth and power you’ll be glad your problems pale in comparison to the trials and tribulations facing this young woman. With The Young Victoria you get a quite fulfilling birds’ eye view into history and the lifestyles of the rich and oh so famous for a fully engaging 100 minutes in this well paced movie.
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