We know Queen Victoria as the stern, round-faced widow who ruled Britain -- the woman who became Queen at the age of 18 and reigned for an impressive 63 years. Peeling that image away, French-Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee shows us a wholly different side of the Queen in The Young Victoria. Choosing to linger on Victoria's early years rife with isolation and manipulation, Vallee reveals the young woman who came to rise above her environment to become one of the most notable figures in the British monarchy. It's an angle that almost works beautifully, but ultimately falls victim to poor framing and the throes of dramatic romance.
Emily Blunt's Victoria rests at the center of a pulsing web of power struggles. Her mother (the Duchess of Kent, played by Miranda Richardson) is the puppet of her companion, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong). Together, they struggle to keep control over the young girl, and to keep her from King William IV (Jim Broadbent), who, in turn, publicly loathes the Duchess. The Duchess' brother, meanwhile -- Leopold I of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann) -- is determined for Victoria to marry the young Albert (Rupert Friend). To make it even more complicated, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) comes into play, charming his way to a position as Victoria's trusted advisor while the young Albert struggles to not only win Victoria's heart, but also stop Melbourne's influence.