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Make it Snappy: "The Young Victoria" at Manlius on Xmas

He has been instructed in every detail of her likes and dislikes in advance. Indeed this instruction has formed the core of his own education and defined his purpose in life, according to his uncle, the Belgian King Leopold, who has a very long-range plan for keeping the English on his side. But when Albert (Rupert Friend, the tousle-haired star of "Cherie") dutifully walks in the garden with Victoria (Emily Blunt) for the first time, he finds he likes the English crown princess much more than he expected. This prompts him to blurt out the truth: he really prefers the composer Schubert, even though he knows she does not. Stronger and more astute than most adults around her suppose, Victoria grasps this burst of sincerity at once, allows she "doesn't mind" Schubert, and something sparks between them. As will be the case at a number of pivotal moments, in this telling of history integrity proves to be very sexy.

When England's Queen Victoria had her coronation in 1837 at the age of 18, among the more well-placed in the audience in Westminster Cathedral was an obscure, nearly penniless but well-born German prince named Albert, who was actually her first cousin. Albert was only a bit older than she and, despite the thicket of relentless intrigues surrounding them both, the two had found their way into a clearing of sorts and actually seem to have married for love. Victoria ruled until she was 81, though she lost Albert when he was only 42 to typhoid in 1861. They had nine children and their descendants eventually populated the royal families of eight other European nations. Albert and Victoria also championed reforms in education, welfare and industry, and supported the arts and sciences.

"The Young Victoria" focuses on a brief but crucial slice of this monarch's long life, framed by her courtship and the early years of her marriage to Albert. There is a prologue -- Victoria as a sheltered, lonely princess with little company other than her dog Dash and her governess, Baroness Lehzen (Jeanette Hain) to relieve the rigid regime imposed by her mother, the bitter, out-of-favor Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) at the instigation of her bullying advisor, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), whose scheme is to force Victoria to sign over her rights to the throne and name her mother Regent. And there is an epilogue of sorts, in which we see a forty-ish Victoria, just widowed, laying out Albert's clothing in the morning, as she would do each day for the remainder of her life.

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