I vote Victoria & Abdul the most charming movie of 2017. I’m not saying it is one of the best, I’m saying it is one of those royalty/period piece movies that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is quite funny, and has a lot of rewatchable value. Thank of The Prince & Me or Ever After: A Cinderella Story. If you’ve seen and love those you know exactly what I am talking about. The movie marketing company has kind of undersold this film. It is quite fun and while has some serious issues, isn’t the snooze fest anti-climatic drama you are probably thinking it is. Judi Dench at this point can act out of a paper bag, and I think she gives one of her finest performances here too, and gets to cut a little loose at the same time.
The movie is based on the real life acquaintance between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian muslim servant Abdul. He goes to India with a companion to deliver this ceremonial coin the the Queen, and when he gives her this coin, he looks at her when he isn’t supposed to, and the Queen gets curious. They become fast friends and she gives him a lot of responsibilities and the other English staff (especially the Queen’s son) doesn’t like what is going on too much. Basically their friendship has to overcome all of these outside hardships. It is a quick hour and 40 minutes of their charming time together.
Like I said, Judi Dench is always great, and will always be great, and this film is no exception. The gentleman who plays Abdul, Ali Fazal, is great as well. And if it weren’t for the chemistry between these two actors, the film wouldn’t have worked at all. Everything else about this film is quite good. The direction, the cinematography of the castle and the land around it. The acting from all the supporting players and the staff that doesn’t like what is going on is great as well. The film is a lot funnier than you think it would be. And it knows when to switch tones when everything needs to be a little more dramatic.
The film isn’t perfect. The narrative is a little clunky and the message is a little frayed when trying to get its meaning across. But this film has a ton of rewatch value. I was surprised how much a liked it. If you like these period piece movies, and maybe even the ones with a little more flair, humor, and fun, you’ll really like it too. Don’t go in expecting Pride & Prejudice, but something more akin to Ever After.