Director Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.) tries to move the camera around where he can, and screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) tries to instill a very modern-woman sensibility to the lead character, but The Young Victoria is still a pretty typical BBC-style costume drama. It’s still a movie made up of pretty attire and people having polite, regal conversations in polite, regal rooms or gardens. And no matter how modern it may seem, it’s still a movie about a woman finding a husband and making him happy. Cute, feisty Emily Blunt stars as the teenage Victoria, who becomes queen despite her youth and despite pressure to turn it all over to a regent. She gets to purse her lips and bark orders at people who don’t believe she is capable of doing so.
She mistakenly trusts in Lord Melbourne (Bettany) for some of her major appointments and decisions, which seems to irritate some people on the sidelines, but has no real effect on the drama. Victoria’s mother (Richardson) is rejected for her wrongheaded association with snaky one-dimensional villain Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong). And Jim Broadbent provides a moment of humorous relief as the devil-may-care King William. But the main focus is on Victoria’s romance with Prince Albert (Friend), which takes two full acts to get going and has very little heat once it does. For a movie with genuine passion and poetry, see Jane Campion’s Bright Star. Meanwhile, look for The Young Victoria in the Best Costume Design category at the next Oscars.