Went to see the BBC-produced movie Victoria & Abdul, an odd little movie about how Queen Victoria (Queen of England and Empress of India) became friends with an Indian servant against the wishes of just about everyone who worked for her. Apparently it’s based on a true story (though the title card adds “mostly”)… much of the evidence (the movie posits) was burned by the King once Victoria died but they found the Indian guys’ memoirs in 2010 and this movie is based on that version of history.
So, yeah, this is a very British film which is both a light comedy of manners and a serious drama about a queen at the end of her life. It’s also kind of tiresome and repetitive. While Judi Dench plays the hell out of Victoria (Oscar reel moment included), much of the movie just spins its wheels. Abdul gets too close to the monarch and the Prime Minister (Dumbledore?!!) gets worried… then the prince gets concerned… then her doctor gets angry… then her household staff, etc. It’s the same scene repeated around six or seven times.
It doesn’t help also that the guy who plays Abdul starts out interesting until you realize he doesn’t have a personality beyond, “Super happy”. And then, late in the movie, we stop seeing things from his point of view and as the queen’s household goes into more and more turmoil. What was Abdul thinking about all this drama? The movie doesn’t tell us…
It’s a decent little movie made tedious but an interminable script that needed some serious editing. Good acting and it looks good. Those of us who are decidedly not British might feel there’s some jokes we’re missing out on. Overall, it’s an interesting look at an apparently true story… maybe.