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Victoria and Abdul
Drama, Biography, History
IMDB rating:
Stephen Frears
Simon Callow as Puccini
Sukh Ojla as Mrs. Karim
Ali Fazal as Abdul Karim
Paul Higgins as Dr. Reid
Ruth McCabe as Mrs. Tuck
Julian Wadham as Alick Yorke
Robin Soans as Arthur Bigge
Judi Dench as Queen Victoria
Fenella Woolgar as Miss Phipps
Eddie Izzard as Bertie, Prince of Wales
Adeel Akhtar as Mohammed
Michael Gambon as Lord Salisbury
Tim Pigott-Smith as Sir Henry Ponsonby
Olivia Williams as Lady Churchill
Storyline: Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
LQ 720x304 px 979 Mb h264 1230 Kbps mp4 Download
That Dame can act!
Some good performances to support another superb performance by Judy Dench. Izzard was a revelation.

Good pace, good camera work - More history well told than masterpiece, but a good night out.

More comedic lines than I was expecting. Is the racism at the core of the film as much about class as religion?
Unlikey story of Indian Moslem servant "capturing" Queen Victoria
Actually 6 1/2. First half of film enjoyable for its light humor and contrasts. second half bogs down somewhat and becomes over sentimental, but whole film enjoyable if you relax and enjoy it, even though in some parts more ridiculous than a story I wrote wherein Disraeli, Victoria's Prime Minister seeks help of Sherlock Holmes to recover the Queen's stolen favorite tea cozy. Film really turns on savoring the Queen as portrayed in an acting gem.
Brilliant - I haven't laughed so much during a film in ages.
I wanted to see a different film, and was a reluctant viewer, but I'm so glad I got to watch this. The cinema was mostly empty, other films such as The Kingsman were fully booked. I can understand why, the plot didn't appeal to me and the cast seemed uninspiring. Its anything but.

For the first hour or so, I was in tears of laughter and joy. Dame Judy Dench is as amazing as ever and seeing Eddie Izzard was a real treat, perfectly cast as the Queen's miserable son, but it was the actor who played Abdul, who brought the show to life. His relationship with Victoria wonderful and her rebirth from a dying queen a joy to watch. There's lots of political questions this film raises, such as racism, the class system, the British Empire, not to mention Old Age and how we help our Elders. The film doesn't deal with these directly and some of them are ignored all together, but then it doesn't need to. The relationship between Victoria and Abdul gives enough pause for thought, to see where the problems lay and the mistakes of our past.

Go watch it. You won't regret it and just maybe you'll get to see a film, the rarest of rare that touches the soul. Beautiful.
A little gem starring a national treasure
Queen Victoria has now replaced Sherlock Holmes as the most featured character on British screens. According to a study by the British Film Institute, the monarch is now jointly tied with James Bond on 25 films. This is thanks to "Victoria & Abdul" (2017) which is a kind of companion piece to the earlier "Mrs Brown" (1997): both works star the inestimable Judi Dench as the British Queen in a relationship with a court outsider in an attempt to assuage her loneliness (indeed the new film mentions the friendship of the earlier film).

Like all good football matches, "Victoria & Abdul" is a game of two halves. The first half is played for laughs with Abdul (Bollywood rising star Ali Fazal) and his Indian companion Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar) acting like Laurel & Hardy or R2D2 & C3PO and the various British establishment characters presented in rather stereotypical or satirical manner.

But then the second half is much more serious with Victoria making very plain the sorrow of widowhood and the isolation of court life and struggling to make her "Munshi" (Indian Secretary) an intimate part of her life even when all around her - especially son 'Bertie' (Eddie Izzard) - are utterly opposed to the friendship and Abdul himself proves to be something of a charlatan.

It seems that this remarkable true story only became known in any detail through the relatively recent discovery of Abdul's diaries and, at a time of significant Islamophobia in the Western world, the idea that a British monarch and a Muslim clerk could have such a meaningful friendship resonates powerfully.

Director Stephen Frears and writer Lee Hall have crafted a work that manages to be both entertaining and topical in a very British movie that will have international appeal.
Deeper than your regular oldies but goldies story
Before seeing „Victoria and Abdul", I was secretly hoping the movie would be about Noisy Nation's lead singer Artur Abdul's triumphant return to stardom, including marrying the newest Mrs Estonia (whose name is Viktoria by the way). Actually, it's a 120 years old true story, about aging Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) withering away on the throne of the British empire, basically just waiting for death. Then she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) whose good spiritual influence helps her to find her way again. Also appearing: Adeel Akhtar, Eddie Izzard, Fenella Woolgar, Julian Wadham, Michael Gambon, Olivia Williams, Paul Higgins, Simon Callow, Tim Pigott-Smith. I started the review with a joke that has only a tiny probability to be understood, even if I explained it to you. Had two reasons for this: I find it quite amusing myself (I am my most important audience and critic anyway), and this kind of conceptual joke working on different levels seemed oddly appropriate considering what this movie is really about. By the latter I mean that „Victoria and Abdul" is the easiest type of movie to be overlooked, so one does not „get" it. Look at any promotional material and what do you see? Judi Dench is playing a cranky old queen striking a friendship with lower class citizen (very bad thing at her time) and finding happiness again, right? It's really easy to see only the crowd-pleasing feel- good aspect of the story which screams „royalties… they are just people too". After all, a remarkable number of such-themed movies or series has been released in the last 10-15 years alone. Not to mention "old actors playing old people" movies which is a popular "genre" too. It's also easy to be entertained or bored only by the most straightforward, crowd-pleasing part of the movie, because it works really well too. I watched it in cinema, and other people were often laughing, or wiping tears during the sadder parts. But the story is actually deeper and more varied than that, which was a pleasant surprise considering I didn't even plan to watch „V&A" in the first place, having very little interest in the private lives of British royal family and all. The more hidden part – well, maybe not hidden, but more easily overlooked part – ponders about the main existential themes in the human life. In context of the particular story I'd summarize it as follows: they study what keeps us going in life, and what keeps us going when one has achieved everything one can come up with rationally. It is interesting to see the shadow side of the power – on one hand, it gives you much more personal freedom. On the other hand, however, it creates one new forms of prison, separating from the others and making one addicted to it. It gets increasingly difficult to let go of it even if one doesn't enjoy it any more. It may be lonely „up there" alone but at the same time it frightens to break down the self-built walled garden because you don't see any alternatives either. Come to think of it, it's true about life in general too, not only having power over people. The performances are wonderful. The cast have the skills and a keen eye to play all the above-mentioned themes out in detail, whether just for laughs or philosophical digesting, depending on the viewer. The main attention is, of course, on Judi Dench essentially reprising the role from 20 years earlier („Mrs. Brown") which brought her the very first Oscar nom she had. She never tries to dominate the screen but her great natural and magnetic screen presence can't be denied, of course. Also, there's a fearless dedication to showing all the getting old thing in „gory" details, with flagging skin, curdled mimics, draggy movements and all. I don't know how much of it was just acting, but she really is pretty old, turning 83 in December. It's probably not easy to face your own mortality while acting it out on screen, in any case. Great performance overall, and awards shouldn't be out of question. It is kind of silly, after all, that thespian this legendary has gotten her only Academy Award for trivial role as Queen Elizabeth in „Shakespare in Love", where she has eight minutes of screen time. There's maybe not much mainstream attention left for Ali Fazal as the other lead, but he's actually very good too. The young Indian actor hasn't done many movies yet but he's superbly enjoyable in a role which requires a certain amount of simple mainstream ethnical humor but also sincerity, lightness and soulfulness that you couldn't probably just act without not finding in yourself first. If I can name anything wrong with „Victoria and Abdul", I would probably tone it down a little while showing the reactions of enraged royal family and court members who just can't take seeing lower-class person having so much influence over the the person with the ultimate power. There's enough visual details such as angry faces to make their feelings clear enough – they don't really have to say things like „what the hell is going on here?" all the time. In this aspect the movie can feel a little „overcooked" at times, but luckily it didn't ruin the experience for me. „V&A" is pretty great watch, both as simple entertainment and a little deeper examination of what makes us value life in general. Director Stephen Frears has given us a fair share of noteworthy movies over the 50 years he's been releasing them, including „Dangerous Liaisons", „High Fidelity", „The Queen", and „Philomena" (one of my favorite movies released in 2013, also starring Judi Dench). I say „Victoria and Abdul" is a worthy addition to his legacy.
Compelling and Enjoyable
This epic film which I saw in the Cinema is an outstanding tale about the real life (mostly) as in the start credits about Queen Victoria and her Indian Servant Abdul Karim. first there was Victoria and Albert now the sequel.

The film starts with how the Queen met Abdul and how their close friendship was formed despite the court antipathy shown to the relationship. The Queen learns about India and its culture directly through her servant Abdul who even teaches her Hindistani.

The film focuses on real events done with a good dramatic setting suitable to the times with scenes on Royal Banquets and Plays in relevance to the story and its relation to the historical basis. The chemistry is works between the two main characters and the leading antagonists who scheme in every way to oust Abdul reflecting the colonialist mentally of the time. Contrary to the age of Empires being called Victorian the figure who the era of the 19th century is named after was not colonialist at all and this separate and fair portrayal of Politics and relationships are deeply demonstrated.

My one complaint is the better way for the film to capture the Anti-Muslim sentiments of the time would be to demonstrate Europe's relationship with the ruling Turkish King Abdul Hamid at this who was the Caliph with demonstrations from prominent imperialists such William Gladstone with direct references to the Sudanese Mahdi and the Indian Mutiny.

The end scene is very captivating and visceral when the Queen dies and Abdul acts like a son to her more then her heir the future Edward VII did. To add insult to injury all the books to which they had learnt Hindistani are destroyed saving only a priceless hidden relic with Abdul returning to India remembering the good times with Victoria. This film acts as respectable tribute to a remarkable relationship that is as relevant today as then with one man's silent story finally to the world.
Gripping as a thriller
For a movie that is not a thriller, suspense, action, comedy or even a musical, this is story telling at its best. From a storyline taken out of recently uncovered history, that does not have much historical significance, the team has created a winner. Judi Dench outperforms everyone else. The sets are very realistic. The humor is slick.
Lovely Judi Dench
Amazing and lovely Dame Judi Dench gives a humorous and heartwarming performance as Queen Victoria. The film is a funny and inspiring one.

The pros: Director Stephen Frears knows how to handle British giants like Helen Mirren (in for example "The Queen" (2006)) and, here, Judi Dench. Indian actor Ali Fazal is truly charming and he and Dench have a great chemistry.

The cons: The film is a bit predictable and sometimes feels a little too constructed.
"And the Oscar goes to... Dame Judi Dench"
As we crawl out of the (largely disappointing) summer movie season, the first of the serious award-contenders hoves into view. Victoria and Abdul tells the untold story of a hushed-up relationship between an aged Queen Victoria (Judi Dench, "Philomina", "Spectre") and her Indian servant, Abdul Kareem (Ali Fazal).

Kareem is shipped to England from Agra to deliver a ceremonial coin to the Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, together with a grumbling 'stand-in tall guy' Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar, "The Big Sick", "Four Lions"). Kareem finds the Queen as sour, depressed and acidic as her post-Albert reputation would have you imagine. But something clicks between the two, and pretty soon the perked-up queen is learning Urdu and all about the Koran, much to the horror of her successor Teddy, the Prince of Wales (a splendid Eddie Izzard, "Oceans 13") and the rest of the royal household, who try desperate measures to derail the relationship.

This film is a complete delight. I went along without great expectations.... a worthy film I thought I should go and see to write a worthy review about. But I was entranced from beginning to end. It's probably best described as a comedy drama... always a difficult trick for a movie-maker to pull off. But here in the competent hands of director Stephen Frears ("Florence Foster Jenkins") the comedy is both very, VERY funny, with the drama also being extremely moving. And crucially the transition between the two never feels forced.

I've seen a few critical comments that the film's underlying topic - the subjugation of the Indian state and the queen's role in that, is a "serious topic" and not a suitable subject for a comedy like this. And of course, "the Empire" is a terrible legacy that the British people have around their necks in the same manner as Germans have their Nazi past and the American South have their history of slavery. But the film never really gets into these issues in any depth: Abdul's background, whilst sketchily drawn and feeling rather sanitised for the late 1800's, is one of a middle-class Indian with a decent colonial job: someone shown respect by his British managers. While the "uprising" of Muslims is mentioned - indeed it's a key part of the story - Victoria's lack of knowledge of such things, or indeed of all things to do with the country she is 'Empress' of, is made clear. The focus of the film is quite rightly on the understandable scandal (for the day) of the queen of England (and hence head of the Church of England) having a spiritual teacher (or "Munshi") who is neither white nor Christian. If there is a criticism to be made of the splendid script by Lee Hall ("War Horse") it is that the racial references - and there are a few - feel rather over-sanitised given the tensions that erupt as the story unfolds.

Above all, this is an acting tour de force for Dame Judi, reprising her role as the elderly queen from "Mrs Brown" which (shockingly!) is now 20 years old. I know its early in the season to be placing bets, before having seen any of the other major contenders, but Dench's "insanity" speech screams "Oscar reel" to me. Her performance is masterly from beginning to end.

Rather overshadowed by Dench is the relative newcomer to western cinema Ali Fazal (he had a role in the "Furious 7" film). But his performance is almost as impressive, bringing the warmth and compassion to the supporting role that is so sorely needed if the overall balance of the film is to be maintained.

The supporting cast is equally stellar with Olivia Williams ("An Education", "The Sixth Sense") acidic as Baroness Churchill; Simon Callow ("Four Weddings and a Funeral") as Puccini; Michael Gambon ("Harry Potter") as Lord Salisbury and Tim Pigott-Smith as Henry Ponsonby, head of the royal household. This was Pigott-Smith's final live-action performance before his untimely death at the age of only 70 in April of this year: and it's sad to say that he really doesn't look well in this film. Also of note is Fenella Woolgar as lady's maid Miss Phipps, comical as a the quivering wreck holding the shortest straw in having to face up to her ferocious mistress.

Another star of the show is the Scottish countryside, ravishingly photographed by Danny Cohen ("Florence Foster Jenkins", "Room") with this film probably doing more for the Scottish Tourist Board than any paid for advertising could ever do!

As the film comments it's "Based on a True Story... Mostly", and this tease of a caption both infuriates and intrigues in equal measure.  I may feel obliged to delve into the original source material by Shrabani Basu to learn more.  

Overall this is a true delight of a film, perfectly balanced, brilliantly acted: I would say this is a "must see" for any older viewers over the age of 50 in need of a cinema outing that doesn't disappoint. This is everything that (for me) "Viceroy's House" should have been but wasn't. Highly recommended.

(For the graphical version of this review, please visit www.bob-the- movie-man.com. Thanks.)
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