Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
In her role playing the elderly queen in Victoria & Abdul, Judi Dench is, once again, a marvel to watch. An actress of extraordinary range and depth, she always seamlessly captures a character’s spirit in an understated way.
As the cantankerous queen who finds her final chapter lackluster and devoid of meaningful connections, Dench snaps with edginess until she finds energizing companionship with her new servant Abdul.
Powerful Bond Despite Wide Gap in Years, Backgrounds and Rank
Although widely separated by years, backgrounds and rank, the pair forms a powerful bond. Played by the gifted and expressive Ali Fazal, Abdul seems to understand Victoria in an instinctive way. Others generally find the queen’s fussiness trying, but her special friend consistently treats Victoria with respect, admiration and compassion.
Some viewers may question the nature of this unusual relationship. However, like most, few can fully understand a personal connection except for the people involved. In Victoria & Abdul, this relationship does not visibly cross the line into the romantic realm but is an unconventional variation of committed love, which is fascinating to watch.
Outstanding Acting Creates Enduring Movie Moments
As a result of this unique connection, Abdul’s special attention from the queen separates him and increases the jealous ire of fellow servants and staff members. Although Victoria cannot tolerate others and abruptly dismisses them, she craves and welcomes private time with Abdul. While teaching the queen a new language and spending time alone with her on a remote island, their mutual admiration continues to grow and deepen.
Through the painful end of watching Victoria’s health decline, Abdul’s unwavering loyalty is revealed as he stands guard outside her door–when refused admittance from others on staff. When she finally leaves this earth and Abdul kisses her feet, this image along with Ali Fazal‘s deeply pained face and streaming tears create another enduring movie moment.
Questions for Artsphoria’s Online Film Forum
How did you react to this unconventional relationship? Why do you think this pair formed a deep bond despite their differences? Add your comments to this movie review, and invite others to join Artsphoria’s Online Film Forum.