Victoria & Abdul was the final movie that I saw during my Portland movie binge week. I actually squeezed-in Victoria & Abdul on the morning that we had to fly home.
PLOT- Based on the true story of England's Queen Victoria and her friendship with Abdul Karim, a clerk from India.
LIKE- Admittedly, I know very little about Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and nothing about the last fourteen years of her life that are detailed in Victoria & Abdul. It's a compelling story. Abdul (Ali Fazal) was asked to travel from India to present Queen Victoria with a gift from India ( a British colony at the time) to commemorate her Golden Jubilee. The queen took a liking to Abdul, who spoke his mind and didn't quite follow customs like the others in court. He was a breath of fresh air and the two developed a friendship.
The queen asked him to stay as her "Munshi" and in this capacity he was a clerk, advisor, and he taught her his native language, Urdu. She even brought over his wife and children, setting them up in a home. Unfortunately, her friendship with Abdul was not accepted by her family and others at court. They threatened to have her declared incompetent and although that act was not carried through, as soon as she died, they wiped away all traces of her friendship with Abdul and sent him back to India.
It's easy to see why they would strike up a friendship, especially for the queen, who must have grown weary of people acting formal around her and never quite knowing if they were truly her friend. Abdul is sincere and this shines through. Queen Victoria is delighted by this man who does not always know "the proper" way to act around her and who can tell her about his country, a colony that the queen is eager to learn about.
Unfortunately, other people in Queen Victoria's circle fear this friendship, they fear the potential influence that Abdul might have over Victoria. I think there is some truth to Queen Victoria's claim that they don't trust him because he is from India and different. Racism likely played a part. However, I think any major influence from an outsider would have likely made her friends and family very nervous. She is such a powerful person that the ability to influence her actions and decisions would be scary to her court.
DISLIKE- Nothing. Victoria and Abdul is a solid movie with an interesting true story and wonderful performances.
RECOMMEND- Yes! Victoria and Abdul is worth a watch, but not one that you need to see in theaters. It's a great rental.