Victoria and Abdul. Dir. Stephen Frears. Perf. Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Fenella Woolgar, Olivia Williams, Paul Higgins, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow. Focus Features, 2017.

Fact-based account of the unlikely, enduring, and to others exasperating friendship between Queen Victoria and the Indian everyman who became her closest confidante.

Note: This one starts with one of my pet peeves: “A true story… mostly.” ?!? Tell the story, or say it’s “inspired by actual events”, which lets us know you got a great idea from this account, but took it in your own direction from there. Victoria and Abdul does seem to be faithful but for some dramatic license (probably like Kingdom of Heaven, wherein they jumped across eleven years between events during which things were at an unchanging standoff; as Liam Neeson put it at the time, sometimes the expression presents more truth than the fact). Point being, if you really want to rely on this, be sure to give it a Google first. Here’s a Time magazine article to get you started.

Also, the film doesn’t give us a solid sense of the time span involved, which lost it a star, but otherwise it’s quite wonderful, and the performances are spectacular. And mandatory for the story, of course.


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