2010-01-22 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

‘Young Victoria’ – Teen Queen
By Robert Snyder

The usual image of Queen Victoria is of an overweight dowager dressed in black and looking bleak. The film, “Young Victoria,” gives the old girl a radical makeover.

Portrayed with vivaciousness and sensitivity by actress Emily Blunt (“The Devil Wears Prada”), Victoria in her early years is a hottie, or at least she wants to be.

Of her childhood spent in isolation, she remarks, “What little girl does not dream of growing up as a princess, but even a palace can be a prison.” The heavy here is Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), who is persistent in his push for the 17-year-old heir to the throne to sign a regency order, giving power to him and his cronies.

Little Vicki is equally determined to fulfill her destiny. She just needs a man whom she can trust to help her over the speed bumps. Also it would be good if he were husband material. The first in line is a certain Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany). He puts her on the right political course with his allegiance to the soon-to-be-dead King William IV ((Jim Broadbent), her paternal uncle and ardent adversary to Sir John.

But, the world opens to young Victoria when she is introduced to her cousin, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend), son of her maternal uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann).

Albert is the one. Sexy, but not too pushy. Victoria can rule; he’ll just advise. Truly, a liberated man for the 19th century. All he needs to do is learn to waltz, which he does, leading to a spectacularly romantic dance sequence at Victoria’s coronation ball.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée from a Julian Fellowes script, “Young Victoria” is a sumptuous historical feast for the eye, with an intimate, though elegant look inside British Royal rooms and the people who once inhabited them. Much of the authenticity must be credited to a certain Sarah Ferguson, sharing the title of co-producer with Martin Scorsese, among others.

As for Miss Blunt, this is the role of a lifetime, which she deserves after stealing the thunder from Anne Hathaway in “Prada.” She also deserves to do a sequel, not unreasonable since she’s playing England’s longest reigning monarch.

However, it would be sad to see Victoria slide back into depression after her beloved Albert dies at age 42.

Maybe it’s best to forget the sequel and leave the teen queen on a high note.

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