Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) is bored and lazy. Her servants daily have to pull her out of bed and dress her, she attends important ceremonies only to fall asleep and she overall displays loneliness and lifelessness. This begins to change as an unlikely friendship begins with a young Indian man named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal).
Abdul is requested to present Queen Victoria a royal coin simply because of his height. Upon presenting the coin to Queen Victoria, a slight connection is made and a new, unexpected friendship begins.
One of my favourite transitions in the movie Victoria and Abdul is watching not only the Queen become Abdul’s student, but also seeing a servant become a teacher. Watching the new friendship grow stronger between the two of them is incredibly well done. Credit and thanks goes to the lead actors. I’ve always found Judi Dench fantastic, but this role required her to be more outgoing than anything I have seen her do in a while. Watching Judi Dench eat food while leaving a mess on her face and not care was funny, but the actress reminds us that she can still quickly change a character into someone who can bring a cinema to emotion as Queen Victoria begins to trust and open her heart to a new friend as well as deal with her staff judging her consistently.
Director Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) once again shows us another film with stunning and delightful visuals through buildings and simple colour work as well as clever use of landscapes and panning shots. Thomas Newman’s musical score is also a worthy mention as it delivery quirky and dramatic themes though the film. It was a perfect complement to the film itself. You can tell a lot of hard work has gone into this film.
Overall, Victoria and Abdul is a pleasant film to see. Filled with heartfelt moments of an unlikely friendship, the story is told by some very talented actors who deliver an outstanding performance about the ‘mostly true story’ of a Queen and her servant. For those who enjoy a historic drama, this one is for you. For me, the credits rolled and I said to myself “What a wonderful film”.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden