I thought “Victoria & Abdul” was quite sweet from the trailer but I wasn’t too sure what to expect before watching it. I’d watched a few other trailers with my boyfriend to decide what to watch and he found this one to be lighter than the rest. I’m not too sure why I didn’t push harder for “Marshall” and “Geostorm” but with Judi Dench being my favorite actress, it was obvious what I would choose! Thanks goodness my man chose to agree with me, because it surprised the both of us!!
Review (w/ Spoilers!)
I was a bit nervous to review this movie because of how biased I am towards Judi Dench as well as how super aware I am of the history between Great Britain and India. I was a history major the first time through college, so I had the study and write about the oppression, violence, and anguish during that time. And then, to know that Ms. Dench is in a film featuring Queen Victoria, who I know quite well, too… It was difficult but I’m okay with it, now.
The story of “Victoria & Abdul” was very sweet.I found myself quite enchanted with the combination of worlds and different foods and flavors highlighted in this film. To begin with the life of Abdul and how he was chosen to present a coin to Queen Victoria was strange and unfortunate for Mohammed. The friendship develops quite naturally but there were strange turns when Mrs. Karim was brought over with her mother. That change in things rocked their friendship and the world of the other members of the house. The rampant racism is sad and very discouraging. The twist and turns in the friendship was strange and a bit jarring, especially with the death of Queen Victoria and the departure of Abdul. I found that I, also, grew a dislike towards the Monarchy system and Berty.
Judi Dench has always been my favorite in this film. Her humor came out in her brilliant performance of Queen Victoria. I can’t see anyone who would not like her, especially given how great a role she had taken on at this age! She was the perfect Queen, and I couldn’t help but love her portrayal of the lonely and bored Queen. Ali Fazal was a bit jarring in his performance. He was a bit too upbeat and enthusiastic, which was a strange reflection of their time. Kemaal Deen-Ellis playing Mohammed’s personality was a big relief and comedic dose of pretty awesome interpretations. I coudn’t help but like him.
As for the rest of the house, especially a spoiled brat Berty, I felt annoyed with him and disliked how racist they were. It’s hurtful, seeing how condescending they were and it made me sad. But, back in the day, that’s just how it was. To know where the deep racism comes from… it’s a bit sad and shameful to those around Queen Victoria, at that time.
Production Design 
The beauty of the landscapes were breathtaking and unforgettable. Much was shot in Scotland, which has some of the most beautiful and uninhabited landscapes of our time. Balmoral Castle was stunning and breathtaking! I was on edge the entire time, amazed with the beauty of the different rooms and how the production was so lucky to have such details to work with. As I gleaned more information, I found that this Scotland blog was just so proud of their involvement and how much the real Queen Victoria loved the lands!
I was pushed and pulled by the filmmakers into giving to their movements. In the beginning, there was uncertainty until Queen Victoria and Abdul smiled at each other. From then, a romantic and indulgent type of friendship formed which confused me. I think filmmakers did their best to imply such a relationship, especially when they referred to John Brown, a love Queen Victoria had after the death of her husband. Their protection agitated me, their racism insulted me, and the semi-truths of history was a great encouragement for all viewers. When Queen V died, my eyes swelled up. When Abdul was forced to leave, my heart sank. And to find out what the end held, it made my heart drop.
I was impressed with this film. Something about the English Monarchy had always baffled me, but many were addressed in this film. In some ways, it shattered my dreams and made me worry about Queen Elizabeth, but also reassured me in some ways. Life isn’t perfect, not even for Queen Victoria… how terrible it is for them to live always in the spotlight. I wonder how they manage the loneliness.
My overall score: