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Victoria & Abdul

Opening Date
09 Nov 2017
PG Some Coarse Language
112 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Stephen Frears
Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Adeel Akhtar, Simon Callow, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Ruth McCabe, Tim Pigott-Smith, Julian Wadham
The extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s(Academy Award winner Judi Dench) remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favour with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.
By Razi  09 Nov 2017
... this is the kind of masterfully paced cinema both art- house lovers and commercial-leaning fans can appreciate without complaint.
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This is a story the Royal Family did not want you to know, much less watch in cinemas. In fact, it took a full century before a journalist picked up on nobleman-like portraits and a bust of an Indian-Muslim “servant” at the Queen’s summer home. What followed from the investigations formed the basis of Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant - the book upon which the titular film is based on.

They say it is lonely at the top. Perhaps none more so than being Queen for as long as she had been. With the passing of so many of her loved ones and still having to be the apex of English royalty, Victoria & Abdul is a historical chronicle (based on true events, mostly) that is appropriate as an antidote for the xenophobic climate the world finds itself in today.

Q plays Queen with Dame Judi Dench reprising her role from 1997’s Mrs Brown. Ali Fazal (3 Idiots, Furious 7) provides an almost angelic presentation of Abdul Karim, the kindred wunderkind that breaks the portrayed monotony of Queen Victoria’s vapid ceremonial rep- etition of an existence. Eddie Izzard requires special mention for his turn as heir apparent, Bertie (later King Edward VII) — for all his bumbling jealousy, a single look of pained vul- nerability in the third act adds dimension previously unseen. To round off the list, BAFTA- winning Adeel Akthar (Murdered by My Father) continues to be an underrated powerhouse in his small but hilarious role as the “ugly and fat” foil to Abdul. Portrayals of these charac- ters may not be to the satisfaction of historians but this reviewer has no issues looking past the dramatic licenses taken.

Because, at the end of the day, Victoria & Abdul is a simple story of kinship well told, and necessarily so. With luscious cinematography, a generous sense of humour uncommon for this genre and a brilliant cast to boot, this is the kind of masterfully paced cinema both art- house lovers and commercial-leaning fans can appreciate without complaint.
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