The term “eye candy” is usually in reference to special effects in the discussion of film. In most cases, the phrase denotes a negative connotation, in that a film is visually appealing but falls short in storytelling. It may not always be this way, but in most cases the description rings true. However, not all eye candy is created through means of digital effects; sometimes more tangible on-set artists create the visual stimuli. As is the case with The Young Victoria, a film based in the 19th century and the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign over England.
The film details the rise of Victoria to the throne, exhibiting both the relationship status of her private and political life. In just four short years, she ascends from being practically forced into signing away her ruling power before her 18th birthday to becoming one of the youngest ruling monarchs. All the while she is being abandoned by her selfish mother, pulled by strategizing political parties and transforming into a young adult with romantic desires. Victoria, seamlessly played by Emily Blunt, is stubborn and strong-willed, which makes her isolated as well as admired. Blunt is very careful in her depiction, showcasing a young woman on the verge of destruction but persevering through vigilance to her position of power.
Beyond highlighting the early political career of Victoria, the film focuses on her love life. Once a part of political positioning of Belgium, the prince of Germany becomes her confidant and eventually her husband and most trusted political partner. The love story of the film is entertaining to watch, even though a large portion of the romance is detailed through narrated letters and long jumps in time. Even after the two are united and we witness the beginning of their life, it still is interesting to see the dynamic between the powerful female and male counterpart. However, don’t expect a whirlwind romance, just enjoy the destined connection of the two young royalties.
Jean-Marc Vallee’s script is an ambitious and predominantly successful venture, yet the film seems muddled at times. As a visual product, the film hits on all cylinders, showcasing a beautiful, yet restrained vision of 19th century royalty lifestyle. Not only are the locations and sets dressed appropriately and realistically in reference to the era, but also the costumes are a pure delight, adhering to the genre. By allowing the beauty of the visuals to come into focus in the film, Victoria is able to skate around the mess of the storyline. Throughout the screening, it feels as if large portions of the film have disappeared, possibly losing audience members along the way.
The Young Victoria is a beautiful film that relies heavily on the costumes and locations of the genre. Although it may be a new take on the personal life of British royalty, the filmmakers understand that success can be found in following the rules of previous works. Blunt will surely receive nods for her starring role, but unfortunately the film as a whole is easily forgotten.
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