Queen Victoria is known today as the longest reigning monarch in England’s history. Her name is listed among the great rulers of not just England, but of the entire world. She became queen at the age of 18 and her reign would last for over 60 years. Part of that reign she shared with her beloved husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, a German prince. The Young Victoria captures the start of Victoria’s rule as well as her courtship and marriage to Albert, one of the most beautiful and sentimental love stories. The film shows her turbulent and confining beginning and chronicles her search for independence. Although at times she seems to be a bit headstrong, the matter of her youth remains as a undercurrent of the film, a theme that only makes one respect the woman more.
Director Jean-Marc Vallee lets the gorgeous scenery and rich, luxurious clothing be second to the intimate scenes on screen. He focuses on faces and dialog which made what could have been an average biographical drama a beautiful period piece. The 2009 Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design went to Sandy Powell for this film and it is easy to see why. The film’s costumes are organic, fitting, and never too ostenatious.
Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria concerned me at the beginning. The only other films I had seen her in were The Devil Wears Prada and The Jane Austen Book Club. Both films she was good in, do not get me wrong, but there was no stand out quality to her, possibly because she was part of an ensemble cast in both. But in this film she reached an emotional depth that surpassed my expectations. She was both fiery and meek and walked that delicate line for the entire film. One really can believe that she is a young, impetuous monarch that has no experience in the matters of the state. Blunt was nominated for the 2009 British Independent Film Award for Best Actress. Blunt can be seen alongside Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau, due out this fall.
Rupert Friend continues to impress for the chemistry between Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend is undeniable. Their relationship is passionate and tender yet fiery and turbulent. Friend’s performance as Prince Albert merits more recognition than it was probably given. His acting gave an innocence to his character, a persona that really did make him seem like a somewhat sheltered royal. Yet he manages to exude confidence and dignity. He really is something to watch. A Golden Age of Hollywood element just comes out of this man in the film-not only is he horribly good-looking but he can back his looks up with his acting. Again and again, Friend shows his consistency with films like The Libertine, Pride and Prejudice, and Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. Friend has also been a type to shy away from the celebrity fanaticism that seems to grasps a hold of the careers of the current hottest actors.
Friend finished the short film The Continuing and Lamentable Saga of the Suicide Brothers, a project which he not only stars in but also co-wrote the screen play for. Also co-starring in the short is the second half of the writing duo, Tom Mison, as well as Friend’s girlfriend Keira Knightley. Friend’s next project is the starring role in The Kid, an adaptation of the book by Kevin Lewis.
The Young Victoria is a beautiful, romantic period piece capturing one of the greatest love stories that have been clouded by myth and rumor. When the film stopped, the viewer ends up pleaded for more. It will make a great addition to any DVD library.