Oh my goodness, this movie. Oh!
As a someone who considers herself a bit of an Anglophile, the idea of a fantastically-styled movie about the life of a young British queen is more exciting to me than Christmas. The fact that the movie focused on the earliest years of her reign (read: when she was young and hot) pushed it over the top of awesome for me.
Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) ascended the British throne in 1837 at the age of eighteen. She was raised in practical solitude, as her mother and everyone surrounding her in the palace is cognizant of the fact that she must be protected. The only direct heir to the British throne, she cannot even descend a staircase without supervision. (For more on Victoria, see here, as I don't want to bore you.)
Her lack of freedom is depicted well - it's quite subtle and yet the viewer is very aware that commoners have more free will than the princess of the British Empire.
While the idea of a period movie might not be for everyone, just consider it a romantic film with fantastic clothes. It's not really a chick flick, but it follows the same formula. Chick flicks get a bad reputation, I think, because they aren't always a bad thing when they're actually written well and aren't formulaic and embarrassingly sad (re: anything starring Katherine Heigel. Ugh.) But Victoria is more romantic than sickeningly lovey-dovey, if that helps.
Yes, there's an arranged marriage, and yes, that's how it was those days, but when you see Albert (Rupert Friend), you might not feel so bad for her.
The acting is phenomenal, and as a love story, it doesn't feel fake or contrived. It's not forced or ridiculous. Well, it's ridiculous in such a way that theirs was an arranged marriage, but Victoria and Albert were very well matched, with similar interests and ideals. They both loved and supported the arts and education, as evidenced by The Great Exhibition of 1851, an international exhibition organized by Albert, and they bonded over their mutual interests.
Assassination attempts on the life of the queen (a little contrived in the film, but semi-accurate nonetheless) cemented their relationship as not just a married couple, but a team.
Their love has been well documented in letters from Victoria and Albert to relatives and friends. When Albert died, Victoria was in mourning for the rest of her life - wearing black until she died. And a little anecdote at the end of the film - explaining that Victoria laid out his clothes each day - is true. And that elicited a little sob from yours truly.
I just loved this film. I tend to either love or hate period films, and this one happened to hit all the right notes. From the gorgeous costumes to the set design and cinematography, it was like watching a piece of art.