Victoria & Abdul: Movie Review

Updated on March 16, 2018
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Victoria & Abdul
Victoria & Abdul | Source

Twenty years after first portraying Queen Victoria in 1997’s much-heralded Mrs. Brown, Judi Dench reprises the role in Victoria & Abdul, which, as the opening credits state with the same irreverence that the subsequent film carries, is “Based on real events...mostly.” It’s a largely fun, eminently fascinating tale that almost went untold; it wasn’t until 2010 that the story was finally made public, thanks to the release of Abdul Karim’s diary and letters from his fifteen years in the company of the Queen.

Following much of the same general plotline as Mrs. Brown, Victoria & Abdul traces the irreverent and highly frowned-upon friendship between a wholly unlikely pair—a middle-class clerk in an Indian jail and the long-reigning monarch of the world’s most vast empire. After Abdul (Ali Fazal) is chosen, based solely on his height, to travel from India to England to present a ceremonial coin to Victoria on her Golden Jubilee, the pair strike up an almost instant, unconventional companionship. She enjoys his company and matter-of-fact approach (a welcome change from the fawning she is subjected to), and he is happy to teach her about his culture, including lessons on the Koran and also his native language.

Of course her rigid staff and even more rigid son Bertie (a delightfully droll Eddie Izzard) is none too pleased with the arrangement and try everything in their power to have the Queen come to her senses and get back to her expected regal ways. But Victoria will have none of it. And we’re all the better for it, as we get to witness it all come to life.

Director Stephen Frears (Florence Foster Jenkins), working from a sublime script by Lee Hall (War Horse) has endless fun bringing Abdul’s story to the screen. Even though it’s presented with a considerable level of satire and with tongues firmly planted in cheeks (the house staff, including the Queen’s personal secretary and her physician are played so broadly as to elicit frequent, genuine laughs) the underlying themes of bucking the system and tolerance and friendship-above-all shine through.

Dench, for her part, has rarely been in better form, and though older now than Victoria was at her passing, she’s showing no signs of slowing down or becoming any less stellar than she has always been, as one of the world’s leading actresses. Fazal, sporting the required charisma and talent to share the screen with the legend, deftly completes the pairing, and their resulting chemistry helps make the film one of the more delightful surprises of the fall.

It’s a true story for the ages, and even though it’s truly taken ages to finally see the light of day, Victoria & Abdul is entirely worth the wait.

Rating

4.5/5 stars

'Victoria & Abdul' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)