The Young Victoria is a straitlaced affair | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

The Young Victoria is a straitlaced affair 

click to enlarge Emily Blunt as the young Victoria - PHOTO BY LIAM DANIEL

The Young Victoria opens Friday in select theaters

The Costume Drama™ is one of the surest paths toward critical acclaim-cum-acceptance for fledgling movie stars. A period piece about the turbulent early years of Queen Victoria's reign must have seemed like a plum role for Emily Blunt, the brunette beauty who has flashed talent and cross-genre versatility in such films as My Summer of Love and The Devil Wears Prada, along with a Golden Globe-winning performance in the 2005 TV movie Gideon's Daughter.

Unfortunately, Blunt's vitality dissipates in The Young Victoria, a derivative, somnolent biopic directed by Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.). The usually reliable Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) pens a quaint, inert screenplay that lacks the brazen pop sensibility of Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth, which gave Cate Blanchett instant stardom and her first Oscar nomination. But, set in the era of the constitutional monarchy and lacking the weighty threats of wars, religious tumult and deadly betrayals, the tribulations facing young Victoria seem relatively mild.

click to enlarge Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend - PHOTO BY LIAM DANIEL

The palace intrigue here rests mainly in an ongoing parlor game of guessing which man will manage to exert the most influence over Victoria. Early in her rule, it's Whig Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), filling the Walsingham role. However, as history books teach us, Victoria's husband and true love, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend, a poor man's James McAvoy), ends up being her most trusted advisor and protector. Indeed, in Fellowes' universe, Albert takes an assassin's bullet aimed for the queen, an event that never actually happened. Fertile subplots, like Victoria's strained relationship with her mother (Miranda Richardson), remain underdeveloped. Meanwhile, the more the film focuses on Albert's shrewd machinations, the less power Victoria truly seems to wield.

Oscar winner Sandy Powell's costume design is sumptuous, as are the on-location English settings. And Blunt demonstrates enough to prove she could carry this role were it not a prisoner of a stultifying script. As Great Britain's longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria is an important figure in English history. In The Young Victoria, however, that history gets refracted through the prism of a Mills & Boon romance.

  • In The Young Victoria, history gets refracted through the prism of a Mills & Boon romance.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I am indeed very happy for my life; My name is Vargas Cynthia I never thought that I will live …

by Vargas Cynthia on Axis of Cinema (Film Review)

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

The only peeople who murdered those boys were let off by an inexperienced prosecutor and hoodwinked judge. The facts are …

by Greg 1 on The West Memphis Three are free ... what about the real killer? (Film Review)

"Miles Ahead"... "opening Friday".... where? I'm having a tough time finding film times/locations on www.indyweek.com now. The …

by Tbone on Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis Film, Miles Ahead, Isn’t a Real Biopic—It’s Something Better (Film Review)

Comments

I am indeed very happy for my life; My name is Vargas Cynthia I never thought that I will live …

by Vargas Cynthia on Axis of Cinema (Film Review)

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation