THE YOUNG VICTORIA concerns exactly what its title indicates: the early years of England's Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt), including her romance and subsequent marriage to Prince Albert (Rupert Friend). Told almost entirely from within the gates and walls of the royal palaces of Europe, this brand of histori cal dramatization isn't terribly interested in providing a greater social context. Victoria's struggles here are primarily personal, regarding the rites of passage necessary to becoming a functional adult as well as a monarch: having the strength and self-trust to claim your distance from close but controlling family members, learning which men can be trusted, and so on.
Victoria is a steady telling of Victoria's ascension from a sheltered, solitary, and markedly inexperienced child to a brave teenage queen who overcomes anxiety and learns to navigate a social world in which there's always a political subtext. Eventually steadied by Albert, with whom she went on to share power (and, sadly, far outlive), Victoria and her husband created a legacy for supporting the arts, as well as compassion and advocacy for the lower classes. This reverential film, though, is more concerned with the private hurdles preceding these public successes, such as the power struggle the couple suffered in the first year of their marriage. The prioritization of reservedly faithful representation (to the queen, if not to history) can be a bit of a letdown for fans of all-out bodice rippers—there is a notably minimal use of tears, blood, and dramatic obsessions born out of repressed desires.
While relatively sober, Victoria still boasts enough angst to garner a place on any period-drama fan's dance card. Nonetheless, it probably lacks the guts and glamorized anguish to make it a favorite of many.