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The Royal Treatment: Jean-Marc Valée’s “The Young Victoria”

The Royal Treatment: Jean-Marc Valée's "The Young Victoria"

How much you like The Young Victoria can be measured in direct proportion to the level of enjoyment you get from the following: parliamentary intrigue; impeccably dressed men and women with knowing looks in their eyes, whispering to one another at long dinner tables; gliding tracking shots of young lovers dancing at lavish balls, complete with full-bodied orchestral accompaniment. For some, The Young Victoria will be yet another one of those pieces of middlebrow piffle that measures seriousness by the number of high-toned speeches it can jam into its (usually too long) running time. Personally, I have a weakness for this stuff. I like the sly exchange of palace gossip amongst those oh-so-world-weary members of the royal court, gazing out over a sumptuous ballroom as they whisper scandalous rumors to one another in low voices. I dig the blustery words about power and loyalty that are often hollow at their center but sound full of gravitas when trumpeted from whatever aging British actor happens to be on screen. And I love a good ball sequence, with carnal yearning channeled into choreographed pageantry. Sure, it can grow tiresome to watch these tropes dragged out and dusted off year after year, decorating yet another slice of holiday Oscar bait like faded decorations on an emaciated Christmas tree. But there’s still a pulse to be discovered within them, when one bothers to reconnect to their lively theatricality. Read Matt Connolly’s review of The Young Victoria.

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