Who knew Queen Victoria was such a babe? That's the message sent by early paintings of the teen queen. Maybe not on the level of Emily Blunt, who in Jean-Marc Vallée's stodgy bio-pic plays Victoria with coltish nuance and shrewdness. But certainly sexier than the whey-faced harridan whose name has become synonymous with repression and hypocrisy.
This, however, does not suffice for a movie, and neither does Victoria's largely epistolary romance with fresh-faced Prince Albert (Rupert Friend), who in one of their first scenes together draws the obvious parallel between their role in the power struggle between waning European royal houses and the pieces on a chess board. No wonder filmmakers have favored Elizabeth I: on her side, a reign of beheadings, burning heretics, and armadas as against, here, a scandal about retaining the wrong ladies-in-waiting.
Not that Vallée helps by isolating Victoria from the period's politics and culture, though Jim Broadbent does make a fine, red-faced William IV.