The Young Victoria

Movies
2 out of 5 stars
The Young Victoria

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Period dramas involving royalty are a test for actors and directors: On a scale of I to V, where does your ability to find humanity in the folds of history rank? Jean-Marc Valle’s contribution to the lives-of-the-regal-and-famous genre chronicles the early years of England’s longest-reigning monarch, laying waste to the prevailing image of Queen Victoria as an eternal dowager. This isn’t your great-great-great grandfather’s highness, all unamused frowns; this Victoria is a wide-eyed Emily Blunt, cooing at her doggie and getting busy with her future husband (Friend). Valle and his lead get high marks for kittenish revisionism. In all other respects, however, this movie is indistinguishable from every other throne-and-scepter biopic to hit the screen.

Other than Rupert Friend’s remarkably canned Prince Albert, it’s the supporting cast that provides the sparks. Jim Broadbent and Miranda Richardson could play adorably dotty and acrimoniously defeated, respectively, in their sleep, but that doesn’t make their King William and the Duchess of Kent any less enjoyable. The same goes for villains Paul Bettany and Mark Strong, locked in a to-the-death struggle over who has the better muttonchops. (Bettany wins by a hair.) When these four aren’t on screen screaming or scheming, the proceedings merely dutifully march through power plays and into Pax Britannica. It’s hard to be the queen, though apparently nowhere near as tough as it is to make a great movie about one.—David Fear

Opens Fri 18.

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