First, I must apologize for this post's lateness--I was indisposed yesterday, but am feeling much better. And besides, I couldn't wait to get discussion going about one of my favorite topics...one they actually made a movie about!
Yes, it's time to talk about The Young Victoria!
The film covers roughly 1836-1840, the years during which Victoria ascended the throne, married, and had her first child. All the major events from these years are covered with the exception of the Lady Flora scandal, which I can perhaps understand as it would have been hard to explain and depict in the short time available...though it more than the Bedchamber Crisis affected Victoria's popularity. History did get played a little fast and loose at times: no, Albert did not get shot, no, he wasn't at Victoria's coronation. But the little touches of what did happen--like Victoria's being required to hold someone's hand at all times when going up or down stairs and her running up to give her favorite dog, Dash, a bath when she got back from her coronation--certainly warmed my history geek's heart.
Characterizations were, on the whole, reasonably good, with a couple of exceptions. Miranda Richardson made a suitably waffling Duchess of Kent, Mark Strong a villainous Sir John Conroy (though I suspect in real life he had a trifle more charm...at least to people other than Victoria), and Jesper Christensen could have stepped out of a portrait of Baron Stockmar--in fact, it's plain that an effort was made to find actors who resembled their characters, and it shows.
I was somewhat disappointed in Emily Blunt's depiction of Victoria; I think Ms. Blunt played her a little too buttoned-up, when contemporary letters refer to her liveliness and "showing her gums when she laughs, which is frequently" and her own diaries and letters discuss her dancing till all hours at balls and show her vivid, passionate, opinionated personality. Also disappointing was Paul Bettany as Lord Melbourne, Victoria's first prime minister: the movie paints him as far too young and Machiavellian, though it does get across his rather laissez-faire attitude toward social reform. However, Rupert Friend does a superb job as Prince Albert, showing him deal with juggling the demands of his uncle, King Leopold of the Belgians, and then find his way in his difficult and anomalous position as husband (and theoretically lord and master) to the Queen of England (who made a point of saying "obey" in the marriage ceremony!)
What made this movie sing for me were its physical aspects. I wholeheartedly agree with the "utterly gorgeous and visually stunning" comments in the ad above: the sets, both indoors and out, were simply breathtaking (not surprising, as Blenheim Palace was among the locations used). And oh my goodness, the costumes!! They were simply wonderful and moreover, historically accurate: someone clearly did their homework here. My teen daughters and I were constantly whispering, "Ooh! Love that dress!" to each other through the movie.
So that's my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed it--three thumbs up from the Doyle household. How about you? What did you think?