Okay, so I enjoyed this more than some viewers did.
There haven't been that many films featuring this monarch when so advanced in years (in fact I can't think of any!) as compared to the numerous portrayals of the young Victoria's courtship with, and marriage to, Albert, so I found it refreshing from that viewpoint. Furthermore, director Stephen Frears is a name never to be lightly dismissed and he shows his expert hand throughout this depiction of a 'mostly' factual period in late 19th century British royal history.
The now aged Queen (Judi Dench, of course) is weary with life and tired of the daily royal protocols she must adopt as head of state, when she is unexpectedly visited by Abdul (Ali Fazal), chosen for his height, who comes all the way from India, bearing a newly- pressed medal signifying the Queen's recently bestowed honour of being recognised as Empress of India. She is immediately smitten by the young Indian's looks, despite his being half a century younger than herself, and by his unfussily forthright manner of talking to her. Soon she gets him to start teaching her the Urdu language, a study to which she applies herself with assiduity and enthusiasm. The entire royal household, both dignitaries and staff, and including Bertie, the future Edward VII (Eddie Izzard), are all to a man and woman horrified at the pair's closeness and the way events have turned, and they make no secret to her of their disapproval. But she's having none of it and is determined to carry on the relationship with Abdul as before.
The depiction of the period is very well shown though the Queen's ignorance of some aspects of India's troubled history seemed a little stretched to me. (Perhaps the truth was deliberately being withheld from her?) Although I knew the way the story turns out with its shameful ending, Stephen Frears kept me interested enough to want to see how it would be shown.
There is one episode of heavy sentiment but the film can be forgiven considering what gave rise to it.
Judi Dench is every bit as good as expected, and I did like Ali Fazal's Abdul too despite there being a bit of carping that it was a rather shallow depiction, though which I didn't find. (Incidentally, looking up his name I see that he and I share the same birthday, he being exactly 40 years my junior. Just saying.)
The cast also includes the late, lamented, Tim Piggott-Smith in his final role.
It's hardly a film to set the cinema world alight, but it wasn't trying to be. It serves its purpose well in being a nice, entertaining piece of work which deserves to engender high enough satisfaction for all those involved in its production...............6.5.
2 hours ago