Victoria & Abdul is a sweet film about an unknown piece of history – hidden until a writer came upon portraits of Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) in Victoria’s (Judi Dench) summer house and got curious about the handsome “servant” of the queen. Turns out he was much more than that. Abdul was her Urdu teacher, confidant, beloved friend and, if the movie is to be believed, the only one looking out for the aging monarch. Director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons, My Beautiful Laundrette) makes a beautiful film, as usual, and his fondness for extreme close-ups brings us right into the drama.
In spite of an uneven narrative and what appear to be historical liberties, Victoria & Abdul is a charming film that deserves to be watched if only for Judi Dench’s performance, She portrays Victoria as sad and delightful, gentle and exhausted as she faces the end of a largely lonely life. Dench can always be counted on to deliver the goods. Sadly, Frears’ Victoria & Abdul isn’t strong enough around her.
Really, really short review: We cannot say we were not amused by Victoria & Abdul. It has its charms, and they are mainly in the form of Judi Dench.