"The Young Victoria" Movie Review (2010)

2/28/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"The Young Victoria"

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

"The Young Victoria" is the latest installment in a recent wave--spanning a decade or so--of period films featuring strong female leaders. It also happens to be one of the weaker efforts in the genre.

We meet Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) before she takes the throne, where she is being raised under the watchful eye of her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), and Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong, excellent). The two create a protective prison for the future Queen, where she sleeps in a room with her mother and is forced to hold hands while walking up stairs--even at the age of 18.

Conroy is angling for power, and he uses the duchess and some abusive methods to try to manipulate Princess Victoria.

Resentment, rebellion and a yearning for independence build up until the fateful day when Victoria turns 18 and takes the throne. It is then that Queen Victoria distances her former guardians, makes some unpopular political choices and allies (Paul Bettany), and meets her future husband, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend.)

The story adheres to a formula that was pretty well established in 2008's "The Duchess," with striking similarities even in its cast of characters. In fact, the movie struggles to find an identity of its own, going so far as to employ a brief editing trick made famous by Shekhar Kapur in 1998's "Elizabeth." And no period piece is complete without a scene of dancing and a dog, the latter of which seems thrown in solely to elicit "awws" from the audience.

The cast reads like a list of actors on-call for films set in the 18th or 19th centuries. Blunt, Bettany, Friend, Strong, etc., are all swimming in very familiar territory here. However, their involvement also keeps "Victoria" afloat.

Blunt proves that she can contend as a leading woman, and in time, she could be competing with the Keira Knightleys and Nicole Kidmans of the world. Perhaps she already is. Mark Strong shows once again why he is one of the best and most underrated supporting actors working today. His presence and stone-cold stare are enough to make the most hardened film-goer uneasy. He's intimidating to say the least.

Unlike its predecessors, "Victoria" refrains from shining a spotlight on its characters' fashion and the film's lavish set design. Sure, like any good period piece, there's plenty of 1800s eye candy, but there's never a moment where Queen Victoria dives into a closet full of frilly pink dresses. As such, the film has an admirable modesty to its treatment of costumes and sets.

Despite the production and cast, "The Young Victoria" never finds its place among the new wave of films featuring strong leading females. That identity crisis is what holds the movie back. Everything in it seems just a little too familiar to fully recommend.

Grade: C+

View the trailer for "The Young Victoria" below. What are your thoughts?

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  1. Anonymous said...

    Tweeted @barbolney @ shared on FB

  2. Anonymous said...

    I am hoping it also offers up some historical value in the mix. Costuming aside although I love that quality as well.