DVD review: The Young Victoria (2009)

Title: The Young Victoria

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong, Jim Broadbent, Paul Bettany,

Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallee

Running Time: 104 mins

UK Release Date: July 13, 2009

Certificate: PG

Your Rating: 3 out of 5

Review first published on Movie Muser, July 2009  http://www.moviemuser.co.uk/

Review: Queen Victoria didn’t just reign. She ruled.She in fact ruled for nearly 64 years, longer than anyone else, a record the present Queen may beat if she holds out until 2016 (update: this has since happened).

Yet while most films about, say, Henry VIII see him transformed from a handsome young Jonathan Rhys Meyers-type into an obese Charles Laughton-like glutton, movies about Victoria usually centre exclusively on her later years as a gloomy, sour faced old widow. This is different. Opening in the 1830s, we first meet Emily Blunt’s teenaged Princess Victoria as she develops an initially awkward romance with her German suitor, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend), before we move onto her early years on the throne.

In the meantime, she finds herself in a constant battle to assert her authority over her Germanic mother (Miranda Richardson) and bossy baron, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong).

Although too tall and, frankly, much too attractive to be Queen Victoria at any age, Emily Blunt is otherwise perfect for the role while Rupert Friend is impressive as the crusading Albert. Some of the smaller roles are less well-handled, however. Paul Bettany just looks weird as the sixty-something Lord Melbourne and Jim Broadbent, while brilliant as ever as Victoria’s eccentric uncle, William IV, is so heavily made up that during the state banquet scene he resembles Bilbo Baggins at his eleventy-first birthday party.Yet, for the most part, the film is both visually authentic and well cast.

The problem really is the setting. Victoria came to the throne at a relatively peaceful time in the nation’s history. Her life wasn’t untroubled by any means, but despite a reasonable attempt to demonise Mark Strong’s Conroy, there’s little scope for dramatic conflict. Recognising this, screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) sexes up events by heavily fictionalising a major event towards the end of the film. This contrivance apparently provoked the ire of the present Queen, not a good idea if Fellowes ever wants a knighthood (update: Fellowes was elevated to the peerage in 2011).

The five featurettes here are all less than ten minutes long and primarily focus on the set design, costumes and historical background to the film. ‘The Real Queen Victoria’ is perhaps the best of these, enlivened by diary entries from Victoria herself, even if these are undermined by them being read by someone apparently auditioning for a part in ‘EastEnders’.

For quiet Sunday evening viewing though, The Young Victoria is hard to fault.

Overall Verdict:Blunt and Friend are okay and the central romance is well-handled but anyone fancying something racier should go for ‘The Duchess’ instead.

Special Features:

‘The Making Of Young Victoria’ Featurette

‘The Coronation’ Featurette

‘Lavish History: A Look at The Costumes and Locations’ Featurette

‘The Real Queen Victoria’ Featurette

‘The Wedding’ Featurette

Deleted Scenes

Trailer

Reviewer’s Name: Chris Hallam

Five things that don’t make any sense at all once you think about them…‏

Some things seem to make sense at the time. Others, make less and less sense the more you think about them…

1. What did “Nasty” Nick actually do?

In 2000, “Nasty” Nick Bateman was sensationally thrown out of the first ever Big Brother house. His crime? Bateman was accused of “plotting” and “writing things down using a pen and paper”. Just imagine! Thank goodness nobody on any of the subsequent series of Big Brother has done anything as sneaky as attempting to plot against any fellow housemates in the years since.

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2. The Royals

Little about the royal family makes sense when you think about it. The Queen’s husband is always a Prince as with Prince Philip but the King’s wife is always a Queen, not a Princess. The Queen’s mother was called “the Queen Mother”. But there is never a Queen Father or a King Mother or King Father, even though Philip might still be alive when his son Charles becomes King. Also why is the Queen called Elizabeth II throughout the UK when in Scotland, there has never been another monarch called Elizabeth? And why is it called the United Kingdom when for most of the last two centuries. we’ve been reigned over by Queens?

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3. Pardon?

Sending a parcel by road? It’s a shipment. Sending something by ship? It’s a cargo. Let’s face it: the English language makes no sense whatsoever. Why are the terms “public school” and “private school” used to describe what is essentially the same thing when they should mean exactly the opposite? Why does everybody use both the Imperial and Metric systems at the same time? And a starter for ten: why is Magdalen College pronounced “Maudlin”? Is it simply to catch the non-posh people out?

4. Old TV was crap

Imagine it’s 1990. Want to know what’s on TV tonight? Easy! Look in the Radio Times. But what if you want to know what’s on ITV or Channel 4 (or, heaven forbid, even one of the early satellite channels)? Tough! You’ll have to get the TV Times as well! And even that only listed the commercial channels. So unless you were one of those people who only ever watched the BBC or in contrast, only ever watched ITV and Channel 4 (i.e. nobody on Earth) until 1991, you were forced to buy two separate magazines. For decades, this bizarre situatiion was accepted as normal. And even today, twenty three years later, your dad probably still automatically buys both every Christmas.

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5. Politics is confusing

Okay. So there are two houses of parliament right? The House of Commons and the House of Lords. So members of both houses are called MPs (Members of Parliament) then? No! Only members of the House of Commons are called MPs. The Lords never are. Even though both are literally members of parliament. Got that? Is it any wonder people get confused?

Peers wait in in the House of Lords for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, to conduct the State Opening of Parliament

Why do the British like their Queen so much?

It seems a reasonable question. This is, after all, Elizabeth II’s sixtieth year on the throne. The jubilee celebrations across the UK suggest that support for the monarchy is at least as strong as it was when Elizabeth II became Queen as a young woman in 1952.

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