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Victoria & Abdul


Stars: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar, Adeel Akhtar, Simon Callow

Director: Stephen Frears

Largely a comedy that turns into a tragedy in the last reel, this is a twinkle-eyed account of an unlikely friendship. Elderly, crabby and fed-up - 'Everyone I have known and loved is dead' - a 68-year-old Queen Victoria (Dench) confronts her impending golden jubilee with a minimum of anticipation.

Thousand of miles away in India, humble clerk Abdul Karim (Fazal) finds himself and another (Akhtar) dragooned into journeying to England to present a gold Indian coin to Her Majesty. Once there, his somewhat irreverent approach soon endears himself to the crotchety monarch, and, to the horror of all concerned (except the queen), he soon becomes an indispensable part of the royal household.

Primarily a vehicle for the indomitable Dame Judi, the film has many amusing moments, which help prevent it from otherwise becoming something of a grind, although if you have seen its (too-long) trailer, you will already have chuckled at most of the best bits. It's relaxing entertainment with an occasional fizz of feistiness.

David Quinlan

UK 2017. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour (unspecified).
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 25 Jan 2018

DVD review