Victoria (Blunt) is just your average teenager. She enjoys music, dancing, painting and playing with her dog Dash. The only problem is that her meddlesome uncle Leopold (Thomas Kretschmann) wants her to marry cousin Albert (Friend). As she’s only 17, she’s not really ready for that. Oh, that and uncle William (Broadbent). He’s not very well and when he dies, Victoria will become Queen of England.
The popular image of the mourning monarch is neatly subverted in this story of the queen’s early life. Cosseted by her over-protective mother, The Duchess of Kent (Richardson) and her adviser Conroy (Strong), the young Victoria feels manipulated and controlled by everyone. She’s headstrong, confident and at first, resistant to the advances of Albert before realising that not only are they quite similar but also have feelings for each other.
It’s this blossoming love story that is at the heart of The Young Victoria and which marks it out from many period dramas. By focusing on the characters rather than the history, the viewer can’t help but be drawn into the relationships rather than simply being distracted by the opulence of the surroundings. As it is, Jean-Marc Vallée directs with panache, pulling the visuals, music and inventive but never flashy camerawork together with great skill.
Blunt gives a performance of great emotional subtlety and manages to be both confident and naive as the inexperienced queen. The supporting cast is impeccable, with Bettany as the scheming Lord Melbourne perhaps the stand-out performer, but there really isn’t a weak link anywhere. Even if you don’t think period dramas are your thing, this is a treat. Thanks to Fellowes’ witty script and Vallée’s directorial expertise, The Young Victoria is visually arresting and genuinely touching and romantic.
EXTRAS *** A making-of featurette; a featurette all about the costumes and locations; a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the coronation; a featurette about the real Queen Victoria; a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the wedding; deleted scenes; and the trailer.