Movie Review: Victoria & Abdul

Victoria & Abdul is based on a true story, which was also made into a book: two Indian men were sent to England to present a gift to Queen Victoria during her Jubilee celebration, in the late 1800s, and Victoria took a shine to one of them, Abdul. Abdul later became a teacher to her, called the Munshi, and her son and household staff were not happy about this, because of his low standing (with some racism thrown in, I'm willing to bet, too).

Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) has been the reigning monarch of England for 60+ years ... and is getting a bit bored with it all. That is, until she meets Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), an Indian clerk who is sent to England for what was supposed to be a brief period of time. The Queen has Abdul stay with her, as her Munshi, or teacher, and he taught her how to speak and write Urdu, which was the language that the upper classes spoke in India. Her son, Bertie (Eddie Izard), as well as the household staff, isn't happy that she is becoming close with Abdul, and they try to make him go back to India, with failing results.

I cannot imagine anyone more suited to this role than Judi Dench (who has actually played Queen Victoria before, in the 1997 movie Mrs. Brown). Dench is usually fabulous in all of her movies, but she's especially great here, as the 81-year-old Queen Victoria (in real life, she's 82, as well). Fazal is also good in the role of Ali, and Michael Gambon (aka Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movies - you'll recognize him from his distinctive voice) plays the Prime Minister, too.

Yes, see this movie. It was a lot more humorous than I expected it to be, too - the Queen can be quite sarcastic sometimes, especially with her staff and her son, and there are a few funny moments with the Indian characters, too. The scenery in the film was also very beautiful, with some shots of India, although the majority of the movie takes place in England. The real story of Abdul Karim can be found here, too, and it's an interesting read; the Queen was quite besotted with Abdul (in a platonic way), and afforded him many luxuries that he could not have even dreamed of back in India.

Victoria & Abdul is in theaters today, October 6th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 112 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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