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How Victoria Fell in Love with Albert the Second Time She Met Him could well be an alternate title for The Young Victoria —in theaters Friday—a film that, despite pretenses of historical accuracy, is simply a love story. Whatever its faults, The Young Victoria proves that British actress Emily Blunt can carry a film: watching her smirk and simper for 104 minutes is entirely satisfying. You most likely remember Blunt as Miranda Priestly's second-in-command in The Devil Wears Prada, and she was the most enjoyable thing about the nearly-unwatchable Sunshine Cleaning, despite the inexplicable presence of Alan Arkin. She's also engaged to John Krasinski, better known as Jim from The Office.
Despite the leading actress's charms, the film's dramatic tension relies largely on its viewers ignorance of British history, so it's not surprising that some of The Young Victoria's loudest critics have been English. For one thing, knowing that Albert and Victoria eventually produced nine children makes it hard to get all misty-eyed when the prince takes a bullet for his newly pregnant wife. For another, Victoria and her husband had the misfortune of reigning during the birth of photography. Having glimpsed them in a textbook, viewers unfortunately do not likely imagine Prince Albert looking anything much like the excellent Rupert Friend. Nor do they imagine Victoria, who presided over the British Raj, Charles Dickens, and the Industrial Revolution, as looking at all like Emily Blunt, whose mischievous and malleable face seemed destined for indie films but made for period pieces.