The Young Victoria Movie Review
Golden Globe-winner Emily Blunt stars as England's longest serving monarch in The Young Victoria, a period-piece drama whose biggest claim to fame may be the seriously cocky acceptance speech the film's costume designer gave after winning an Oscar. But we won't hold that headshaking moment against it, as The Young Victoria is a surprisingly well done movie, if a little light on any memorable material.
The movie follows Blunt as Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901. It focuses exclusively on her earlier years, as she ascends to the throne following the death of her grandfather, the Kind of England, through her courtship with Prince Albert. Drama ensues as she resists influence from her mother and various advisors, and faces public outcry as some of her early policies don't take in the full picture.
Blunt turns in a fine performance as Victoria, though there's nothing outstanding about it. She remains relatable even as she plays a character few could truly relate to, which in turn makes the movie all the more easy to watch. The biggest problem with Victorian-era period pieces these days is that most continue to come off as stiff and emotionless; director Jean-Marc Vallee, thanks in large part to the script by Julian Fellowes, manages to cut through that shell and get to the heart of his characters. Still, there's nothing in the script that evokes the range Blunt, or anyone else in the film, is capable of.
This lack of hard-hitting material stems from the same problem that so many period pieces do: the plot is flighty at best. By focusing on the early life of a long and respected monarch, especially on the polite romantic relationship of two budding social elites, it was all but guaranteed that, no matter how hard it tried, The Young Victoria was going to lack a vibrant and truly engaging story. There have been dozens of movies just like this before, and for some reason Hollywood will continue to make dozens of movies like it in the feature.
The Young Victoria is perfectly fine for a period piece and does a good job of depicting the characters at hand, but it is restricted by its stereotypical plot and outcome. Recommended, but only to people who like this kind of drama.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.