A bold and gripping take on the story of Queen Victoria, "The Young Victoria" is from writer Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") and director Jean-Marc Vallée (oddly, it's also produced by the rather odd pairing of Martin Scorsese and Sarah Ferguson (yes, that Sarah Ferguson.)
The film stars Emily Blunt as Victoria, and while the actress is best known for her more modern roles (such as "The Devil Wears Prada"), she offers a rich portrayal in this period piece. Early in the picture, Victoria is living with her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), and her handler, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong).
While they try to outmaneuver her for their own gains, when she reaches her 18th birthday, she takes the throne. While an impressive feat, with great power comes great responsibility, and Blunt does as best she can balancing the free-spirited nature of a teen with a young woman suddenly faced with immense challenges (and not having many in her corner.)
The film proceeds through the political dealings of the era and Victoria's romance with Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) with grace, clarity and warmth. Blunt and Friend are terrific in their scenes together, as the two have an effortless, pleasing chemistry in their scenes with one another.
The movie does have a little difficulty cleanly weaving between political/period drama and romance, but the performances are certainly above-average (Richardson is solid in a supporting effort) and director Vallée keeps the picture tight and well-paced, with an enjoyable energy. Technically, the picture certainly impresses, with lovely locations, detailed costumes and beautiful cinematography.
"The Young Victoria" may not go too deeply into the history, but provides an entertaining and well-acted take on the Queen.
VIDEO: "The Young Victoria" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). The presentation is a delight: sharpness and detail are exceptional, with small object clarity remaining above-average during many scenes, allowing viewers to gain further appreciation for the costume design work and other visual details.
A touch of edge enhancement was seen in a couple of scenes, but otherwise the presentation looked pristine, with no pixelation, print flaws or other concerns. While a bit of light grain was seen at times, this gave the film a pleasing "film-like" appearance. Colors looked pure and clean, appearing bright and well-saturated, with no smearing.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. This is largely a dialogue-driven picture and, as a result, the film's subtle sound mix doesn't go beyond the minimum. While the rear speakers do come into play for music and light ambience, the majority of the audio is spread out across the front speakers. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and score.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, "Making of The Young Victoria" featurette, "The Real Queen Victoria" featurette, "The Coronation" featurette, "The Wedding" featurette and "A Look at the Costumes and Locations" featurette. While no commentary is included, the featurettes do provide a decent overview of the production. A commentary from the combination of Sarah Ferguson and Martin Scorsese would have been interesting, though. The Blu-Ray is also BD-Live enabled.
Final Thoughts: "The Young Victoria" may not go too deeply into the history, but provides an entertaining and well-acted take on the Queen. The Blu-Ray edition of the film boasts superb audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of extras. Recommended.
The Film B+