Skip to content

The Young Victoria – Starz Denver Film Festival

The Young Victoria (Jean-Marc Vallée) – Starz Denver Film Festival Closing Night Film

Queen Victoria has never been remembered for her youth, but for her seemingly never ending old age: her years of mourning, her black dress, her dour expression, her iconic stature. One might wonder, ‘Was she ever a girl?’”“Becoming Victoria” by Lynn Vallone.

Yes indeed. The Closing Night film for the Starz Denver Film Festival, “The Young Victoria,” takes us back to a point in Queen Victoria’s history that has been somewhat overshadowed by what Queen Victoria became after Prince Albert, her husband, her business partner, and dare I say, soulmate, passed.


This is the story of the “rose of England” (Emily Blunt, “Devil Wears Prada,” “Gideon’s Daughter”) who through a variety of circumstances—this person had died, this person didn’t have more children, her parents didn’t have time to have a son before her father died—was the next in line for the crown after her uncle, King William (Jim Broadbent, “Crying Game,” “Bullets over Broadway,” “Hot Fuzz”) died.

Victoria was a teenager, who lived a highly sheltered life thanks to her mother, Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson, “Empire of the Sun,” “Gideon’s Daughter”), and John Conroy (Mark Strong, “Oliver Twist,” “RocknRolla”), the man in their life that in a sense, took over after her father, Duke of Kent, died.

If you don’t know the background of who-was-who going into the film, it is a bit confusing. But director Jean-Marc Vallée and screenwriter Julian Fellowes fill in the blanks in a highly entertaining and engaging way.

Victoria, through the support of her uncle King William, is empowered to break free from the binds of control under her mother and Conroy, much like most teenagers are when they reach a certain age. But in this scenario, we are definitely rooting for her, seeing right through the transparent motives the Duchess and Conroy have as they see their power slipping via Victoria’s independence.

But she is still young and naïve, not always able to detect the other motives of the many others that surround her, and that’s where her cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Rupert Friend, “Pride and Prejudice”) came in as one who saw her in a different light, to stand beside her, to help her learn the game of chess, both literally and metaphorically.

Aside from Sofia Coppalla’s “Marie Antoinette,” never have I seen such a period piece that is so heavily laden with contemporary flair. The characters, conflict, and timeless facets of the human psyche could have easily played out in today’s modern society as it did over 150+ years ago, pomp, circumstance and regality not withstanding. (I’m wondering if one of the film’s producers, Sarah Ferguson, had any influence on this.)

Albert could have been one of the first husbands in history to believe in women’s liberation, had it existed back then. During the courtship, they went dancing (the waltz), discussed their tastes in music (opera and symphony), and laughing from their inside jokes. Marrying for love and not strictly by breeding was also an act of defiance.

Taking his place along side Queen Victoria after they were married, there were also the husband-wife spouts of a newly wed couple, each vying for power within the relationship, albeit a bit more complicated given her place on the thrown.

Albert replaces what had been Victoria’s lifeboat, her personal secretary Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany, “A Knight’s Tale,” “A Beautiful Mind”) who had both simplified her life and caused great political conflicts via his own interests, becoming her Rock of Gibraltar. Seeing Melbourne being put in his place; I wanted to yell “Yes!” as if my soccer team had just scored.

The scenery within the royal walls and gardens is breathtaking; the costumes, elaborate and amazing; the flow and rhythm of dialogue was a rollercoaster of emotion, from intriguing to funny to emotional. And the subtle touches—the hair rising slowly on the Duchess’ arm as her daughter, miles away, nearly escapes with her life—should be applauded.

“The Young Victoria” plays the Closing Night of the Starz Denver Film Festival on Saturday, November 21 at the Ellie Caulkins. For tickets to go


Sign up to our newsletter and get updates to your mailbox