I'm a bit late with this review, but definitely still worth mentioning. If you’re a fan of The Dutchess then this film won’t disappoint, but it also won’t promise the excitement and fraught drama which the walls of Chatsworth offered Kiera Knightly’s film.
The Young Victoria paints a (albeit overly romantic) portrait of Britain’s Victorian monarch from the age of 17 through to her first years as ruling leader.
The film brilliantly shows how youth can benefit and hinder for those blessed with leadership. Victoria’s youth gives her the confidence and fight to stand up to those wishing to take it from her and also the arrogance and pride to fall blindsided to those who wish to manipulate it through her. Emily Blunt is admirable as Victoria, excellently portraying the balance of emotions the young queen faced - apathy at court rituals, pride and ambition to protect her rightful throne, naivety and inexperience with parliament and playfulness and passion for Albert, played by the endearing Rupert Fiend.
I wasn’t a fan of Fiend in Pride and Prejudice, I felt his portrayal of Wickham wasn’t nearly as nasty as it could have been, in contrast his portrayal of Albert is sweet and understated and perfect for The Young Victoria. Albert understands the Victoria, the rules and politics of court and the inevitable tasks which lie ahead, but without apathy he confidently entrusts her to do the ruling (unlike the other men in her life) and is happy to pursue a more noble task of setting the foundations for a welfare state.
Paul Bettany’s Lord Melbourne, is the Iago in this drama. His villainous behaviour is understated and deliberate – a flickering sneer, a softly spoken controlling voice and yet, unlike Iago, he shows the heart broken resignation that the better man won.
I loved the film, it’s beautiful to watch, the clothes and fashions are exquisite and it’s refreshing to see the playful, mischievous and desperately romantic side of a Queen usually portrayed as a fat, miserable frump. Even though some of the film’s events fall short of reality (Albert never took a bullet for Victoria) it does help cement the idea their love story was genuine and something rare and precious at the time.
Next time I’m visiting London I think the architecturally acclaimed Albert Memorial in Hyde Park and the existence of the V&A will now have a more poignant meaning.
Best scene: Jim Broadbent’s rant at the King’s dinner party, Miranda Richardson’s quick exit and the snide, whispered conversations of the surrounding guests.