A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this period biopic about England's beloved Queen Victoria isn’t just the story of a legendary monarch -- it's also a love story about the loving, committed relationship between Victoria and her husband. But despite that -- and the movie's tame PG rating -- kids and tweens probably won't be drawn in by the characters' political machinations, particularly in the movie's first half. Families who do watch won't find too much content to object to -- there's one scene that involves shooting, as well as some flirting and kissing, but no nudity or strong language.
What's the story?
Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) is often best remembered as a long-time ruler bedecked in black, forever grieving her beloved husband, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend), who died decades before she did. Before all of that, however, she was an overprotected young girl -- she wasn’t even allowed to walk up and down stairs on her own -- fending off her mother’s (Miranda Richardson) efforts to establish regency and share her reign. THE YOUNG VICTORIA recounts the legendary monarch's rise to power and, once there, how she grew to embrace her position -- both alone and with kind, idealistic Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg by her side.
Is it any good?
This is a fascinating biopic. For starters, we’ve never seen Queen Victoria quite like this before: a flirty coquette deeply determined to learn how to rule and years away from mourning. And the circumstances behind her ascendance to the throne are intriguing. Blunt’s performance is steeped in wit and whimsy, saving it from the stuffiness that sometimes grips dramas about historical figures. (Though only just: Some moments play like British History 101, stringing important royal milestones together to speed the story along.)
But as intriguing as its subject may be, The Young Victoria really ought to be re-titled The Young Victoria and Albert. Though the movie delves into politics, it’s really more of a sweet romance chronicling how the two met and fell madly in love. The times may have been Victorian, but the marriage was quite modern: Victoria and Albert worked in tandem and strove to bring out the best in each other. It’s wonderful to witness, but in the end, the audience is left with the feeling of having watched two different movies: a historical drama in the first half, a youthful romance in the other. Instructive as the former may be (despite moments that suffer from slack pacing), the latter is far more bewitching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Victoria adjusts to her new role as queen. Does she handle it gracefully? Does her youth get in the way? What, ultimately, gives her the confidence to rule?
Is Victoria a strong role model? How does she compare to other movie and TV potrayals of famous queens?
Why does Victoria resist Albert at first? And when they're finally married, why does she still fend off his offers to help? What is she trying to prove?
- In theaters: December 18, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: April 20, 2010
- Cast: Emily Blunt, Paul Bettany, Rupert Friend
- Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Princesses and Fairies, History
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild sensuality, a scene of violence, and brief incidental language
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