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By Phil Hall | November 29, 2009

If stodgy 19th-century British costume drama tickles your fancy, you will get plenty of kitchy-koo from “The Young Victoria.”

The court intrigue involving Victoria’s ascension to the British throne is the focus here, with plenty of scowling figures plotting and conniving as the young monarch finds her royal. In the middle of the storm is Victoria, a stubborn but not wily young woman, who finds a rock of stability in the sincerity of the intellectual German prince Albert.

Unfortunately for the audience, Emily Blunt’s Victoria and Rupert Friend’s Albert come across like museum mannequins – lovely to look and impeccably dressed, but utterly devoid of any genuine passion. There is vaguely serious talk from both of them regarding their concern for the conditions of the working class, but the film’s insistence (via its closing credits) regarding royal-directed reforms will come as a major surprise to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Victorian-era history.

Some fun can be found in hammy supporting performances by Paul Bettany as the oleaginous Prime Minister Lord Melbourne and Jim Broadbent (sporting an absurd white wig) as the dying King William, Victoria’s predecessor. The film also has plenty of opulent costumes and richly decorated drawing rooms for those who seek out films thick with such decorative accessories. Pity that no one bothered to lay down a competent and engaging screenplay amid the bric-a-brac.

As old Queen V. herself supposedly said: We are not amused.

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