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Victoria and Abdul Movie Review

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It’s a sad fact that there aren’t enough stories about friendship. There are more stories about forbidden love than there is about the strong bond of friendship. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Victoria and Abdul is about. The film tells the story of Queen Victoria’s unlikely friendship with an Indian servant named Abdul Karim during the final years of her reign.

Abdul travels from India to England with another Indian servant named Mohammad to participate in the Queen’s jubilee. When Abdul goes against the rules and looks directly at Queen Victoria, she easily takes notice at his curiosity. This results in Abdul being called back to Queen Victoria’s side on a constant basis.

The chemistry between the two actors, Judi Dench and Ali Fazal, is a strong point for this film. Through this relationship, these two characters learn many important lessons from each other. Queen Victoria especially learns about India and its traditions. Compared to her inner circle, she takes the time to listen. Abdul learns that even a ruler as strong as Queen Victoria is capable of compassion. Both of them have obstacles in this difficult time: Abdul, an Indian servant, and Queen Victoria, an aging female ruler. Through these obstacles, they find common ground with each other. It’s great to see how they inspire one another as the film progresses.

Judi Dench is the best part of this film. Her witty remarks to the members of her household give the film a light-hearted tone. Despite Queen Victoria’s old age, she continues to have a sharp mind much to the dismay of the members of her household. Dench portrays the strength of her character as well as her vulnerabilities with such grace. It’s undeniable that Queen Victoria is a force to be reckoned with when Abdul was threatened by her household.

Ali Fazal is a great counterpart in this film’s duo. From the beginning, Abdul is excited about the new world he is about to enter. He even considers Queen Victoria as the Empress of India. Fazal’s curiosity comes off as very endearing as he learns to love England and respect his home in India. He also portrays Abdul as a positive man in the shadow of racial tension in the royal household.

The cinematography of the film captures the two different countries in their normal routines with interest. Agra, India is a bustling city while London, England is a slow melancholy city according to Queen Victoria. The costume design definitely paints the picture for how vastly different these two cultures are. In most of the scenes, the English wear monotone colors while the Indians are dressed in color in their traditional clothes.

I found this film very heartwarming. I thought that the friendship between Queen Victoria and Abdul was done well. It never felt like it was pushed or manipulated. The conflict surrounding the friendship made it even more worthwhile. It was also an interesting piece of history to learn about Abdul. Even if some of it might be construed by the filmmakers, I think the important lesson to take away from this film is to listen to one another despite our differences. This film demonstrates that lesson in a very beautiful way through Queen Victoria and Abdul.

Victoria and Abdul
  Director:  Stephen Frears
Studio:  BBC Films
Genre: History, Biography, Drama
MPAA:  PG-13
Release Date:  October 6th, 2017
Author:  Emily Casebolt
Emily Casebolt Born in Albuquerque and raised in San Diego, Emily Casebolt is a graduate of New Mexico State University with degree in Digital Filmmaking. She writes and plots stories any chance she gets from screenplays to novels. On her freetime, she watches hours of Netflix and reads countless books. She aspires to be a television writer for a one hour drama. 

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