Who’s In It: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Mark Strong, Thomas Kretschmann
The Basics: In 19th century England, young Princess Victoria (Emily Blunt) is a pretty but naïve teenager whose every decision is made for her by grown-ups including her mother (Miranda Richardson), her mother’s boyfriend (Mark Strong), and various far-off relations who hope to marry Victoria off to suitors they can control. But like most 18-year-olds, Victoria wants to make her own decisions, and that means choosing between two competing hotties: will it be her trusted advisor (Paul Bettany) or her dreamy Saxon cousin (Rupert Friend)? History books can tell you the boring details, but why not get the version with corsets and carriages and Emily Blunt?
What’s The Deal: It’s about time Emily Blunt got herself a high-profile starring vehicle. It’s too bad, then, that The Young Victoria lacks enough bite to really put her in the running for awards season. Blunt is at her winning best as Victoria, a role that takes her from immature young girl to the composed Queen of England with no shortage of fabulous costume changes and pouty-lipped expressions. But considering what Queen Victoria accomplished in her 63-year reign – and all of the behind-the-scenes power plays, public policy brouhahas, and assassination attempts that happened during it – the film doesn’t show us any of the truly interesting things about her life. So while it makes for a nicely diverting costume drama, The Young Victoria never quite feels important enough.
19th Century Dramarama: What we do learn from the script by scribe Julian Fellowes (Vanity Fair, Gosford Park) is that quite a lot of petty intrigue was brewing in the years leading up to Victoria’s rule, and that once she assumed the crown (and began making grown-up decisions for her country, for better and worse) she tempered her immaturity by throwing her calculating mother out of the house while the entire world scrambled to win her hand in marriage. What teenager wouldn't love that? Given the soap opera-level dramatics, Blunt does a fine job conveying Victoria’s gradual maturity while holding court as everyone from Paul Bettany to Mark Strong to the dashing Rupert Friend jockey for position by her side.
Lots Of Bodices, Not Enough Bodice-Ripping: With a PG rating, The Young Victoria is downright Victorian in its morality. The film’s production design and costumes are top notch, but with all of the swooning and letter writing it’s a shame that there’s not more actual romance to be had.