Film Review: Victoria & Abdul (2017)

2017 in Cinema:

Victoria & Abdul, 2017

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Michael Gambon

 

Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) reprises her role as Queen Victoria (from Mrs. Brown) in this sequel, however she’s not befriending a Scottish servant, as in Mrs. Brown, she’s befriending an Indian servant, Abdul (Ali Fazal). Victoria & Abdul goes through the meeting to the ending of their friendship, and all the shock and annoyance from the staff who disagree with the Queen of England befriending a lowly-ranked Indian man.

My biggest issue with this film was that it itself didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be: its humour was very child-friendly (The Queen snoring, or getting food on her face while eating, or falling asleep at dinner) but the theme and the plot, in my opinion, wouldn’t interest a youth too much. It also was advertised as being a serious drama for the most part but came out as a comedy. And while, yes, the comedy is pretty funny at times (I love Eddie Izzard’s comedy, and I don’t know if the part was written before or after his appointment, but it fits him so well), I just can’t help but think this film would have worked so much better as a full-on drama.

The topic is serious enough that a drama would work, and with him being Indian there could have been a greater emphasis on the cultural differences, with maybe more racism coming from the members of the Palace, to really heighten the hatred and anger that the staff and family members were feeling about this friendship. Instead they jokingly got excited when they found out Abdul has an STI and Abdul’s wife and mother-in-law wearing burqas to cover their entire bodies is all easy and child-friendly comedy.

The acting is pretty fine, as you’d expect with Judi Dench, but the script didn’t really allow for them to truly put in a terrific performance. Eddie Izzard and Michael Gambon were brilliant additions and helped the background of the plot, but the confusion I felt at who the demographic was and what the film wanted to be hampered my overall enjoyment somewhat.

 

Plot: * *

Acting: * * *

Writing: * * *

Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * ¾

One thought on “Film Review: Victoria & Abdul (2017)

Add yours

  1. I completely agree with you in regards to the use of humour. I feel that being a very serious and quite problematic event in the history of Queen Victoria’s reign, the use of humour, to me didn’t seem to fit the overall theme. Whilst the acting was good and the relationship between Victoria and Abdul was believable, I feel the film would have benefited from being a serious drama rather than comedy. I left the cinema feeling underwhelmed.

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