Some leaders and monarchs ease into their roles, assuming power, rather than seizing it with conspiratorial fury.
As realized here, such is the case of Great Britain’s Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1901.
Jean-Marc Vallee’s elegant movie, “The Young Victoria,” is more than costume drama, notches above stiff Masterpiece Theater entertainment. It is, instead, sturdy, elegant and refined. I imagine viewers with a political bent will warm up to it, although it hardly qualifies as a political tract.
’The Young Victoria’
DIRECTED BY: Jean-Marc Vallee
SCREENPLAY BY: Julian Fellowes
STARRING: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
But we are discussing a formidable lady, Great Britain’s longest-reigning queen. Played with restraint and intelligence by Emily Blunt, Victoria arrives as a fragile figure, controlled by her mother, and until his death, protected by her uncle, King William (played by Jim Broadbent), who, as usual, is pitch-perfect as an old dog who sees through the subterfuge, but knows his time is near. We learn that after William dies, the prissy Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) is in cahoots with her adviser, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), to seize and extinguish Victoria’s power.
As presented here, the new 17-year-old queen has wily instincts, a sharp intelligence and good fortune in the person of her cousin, who will eventually rescue her and become her husband and the sire of their eight children.
Thank the realm for Prince Albert, nicely played by Rupert Friend. Historians may quibble about details, but here you believe he was more than a doting husband, who knew his place of power without usurping her authority. Again, as depicted here, the Albert-Victoria relationship holds considerable romantic appeal.
You believe their union was grounded on a mature, if not enlightened, aura of love. This is a movie you can believe in, as opposed to flamboyant specials designed to make young hearts flutter. Even so, “The Young Victoria” fuses romance with more than fleeting intrigue.
It’s the story of a girl who refuses to be pushed around, a budding monarch who grows into her role, making some mistakes in the process. Is also the story of a smart, strong lady who has the strength and wisdom to choose the right guy.
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