The Young Victoria
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Our immediate notion of Her Majesty Queen Victoria is that of a stern, possibly grumpy, woman, as she appears in photographs from her later years – the very image of the prudery of the era named for her. But every woman was a girl once, and Jean-Marc Vallée and screenwriter Julian Fellowes begin their film with Victoria in her final months as the bubbly and charming heir presumptive, brilliantly finding the period when she went from girl to woman, princess to queen – and from a pawn on the chessboard of 19th-century European politics to the girl who would one day oversee the golden apex of the British Empire. And all the while, she is living one of the great love stories of recent times, as she marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and prepares to become a mother.
As befits the period, the film is a perpetual feast of grand opulence – the brand-new Buckingham Palace being the primary location of the drama – and nowhere is this more apparent than in costume designer Sandy Powell’s dresses, uniforms, suits, and regalia. Demure yet lavish, pitch-perfect for the time, her costumes fill the screen, deftly charging ballrooms and privy councils with regal formality, and drawing rooms and boudoirs with casual dignity.