Reviewed bymalcolmgswVote: 9/10/10
This has to be one of the best films that I have seen this year.JudiDench is peerless as Queen Victoria.She is the queen personified.We cansee that whatever understanding that she has of her Indian subjectswill pass with her and that the ingrained attitudes will eventuallylead to Independence and loss of Empire.A really excellent film.
Reviewed byimdb-6284Vote: 8/10/10
My wife and I attended a preview screening last night with nopreconceived ideas about the movie, not having even seen a trailer.
We were immediately drawn in and pleasantly surprised by the story,even though we thought it may have been a little far fetched. Until wefound that it is a biography and mostly fact. That made the story evensweeter.
Dame Judy Dench's acting was peerless as usual, but by far the biggestrevelation was Ali Fazal, who put in a wonderful performance fromcomedic through emotionally intense.
There was so much I didn't know about Queen Victoria's twilight yearsthat this movie put into perspective, in a way that was consistentlyentertaining. We laughed and cried. Highly recommended.
Reviewed byDavid Ferguson (firstname.lastname@example.org)Vote: 6/10/10
Greetings again from the darkness. Director Stephen Frears has enjoyeda long career by focusing on the interesting stories of people, ratherthan the salient specifics of history or politics. He received Oscarnominations for THE QUEEN and THE GRIFTERS, and helmed othercrowd-pleasers such as MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, PHILOMENA, HIGHFIDELITY, and FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS. While purely entertaining moviesare always welcome, it's important to note the filmmaker's approachwhen the story is entwined with historical importance.
"Based on real events mostly" is Mr. Frears' cutesy way of kickingoff the film and asking us to enjoy the unusual story of connectionbetween a Queen and a servant, and cut him some slack on the historicaldepth. For most of us, the real enjoyment will be derived from watchingyet another standout performance from Oscar winner (and 7 time nominee)Dame Judi Dench as the longest-reigning monarch, Queen Victoria in herelderly years. It's a role she played twenty years ago in MRS. BROWN,and her relationship with John Brown (presented in that film) has someparallels to what we see here with Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). Dame Judiis the rare actress who can capture both the loneliness and tiresomeburden of six decades of rule and the re-invigorated woman we seelearning a new language and new religion. She plays weary and spunkywith equal believability.
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandand Empress of India, and in 1861 her beloved husband Prince Albertdied. This film picks up in 1887 with the pomp and circumstance of theGolden Jubilee a celebration of her 50 years of rule. The earlyscenes tease us with obstructed views, and the comedic element becomesquite obvious as we see her so carelessly slurping her soup at theformal lunch. Part of the celebration includes the presentation of anhonorary coin by two Indians peasants Abdul (Fazal) and Mohammed (AdeelAkhtar), the first chosen because of his height, and the second as alast minute fill-in.
Lee Hall (Oscar nominated for BILLY ELLIOT) wrote the screenplay basedon the book by Shrabani Basu. The journals of Abdul Karim were onlydiscovered in 2010, a hundred years after his death. Some of the lessfavorable moments of this era are mentioned, but most of the Queen'slack of knowledge or awareness is attributed to the "boring" reportsfrom her advisers. This leads to some awkward moments later in the filmregarding the Muslim mutiny and the subsequent Fatwa.
Rather than dwell on history, the film prefers to focus on theunconventional friendship and the re-awakening of the Queen. Abdulbecomes her "Munshi" a spiritual adviser and her teacher of Urda andthe Koran. As you would expect, this is all quite scandalous andfrustrating for those such as Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (MichaelGambon), Lady Churchill (Olivia Williams), Victoria's son Bertie (EddieIzzard), and the royal staff: Sir Henry (the recently deceased TimPigott-Smith), her physician Dr Reid (Paul Higgins), and her quiveringmaid Miss Phipps (Fenella Woolgar). There is even a comical sequencewith the great singer Puccini (Simon Callow) as the Queen herself beltsout the Gilbert and Sullivan song "I'm Called Little Buttercup".
Balmoral, the Isle of Wight, and Windsor Castle are all part of thebreath-taking scenery, while the absurdity of the royal status isviewed through the eyes of the Indian servants. Most of the focus is onVictoria's transformation from joyless, isolated monarch to theanything-but-insane (an Oscar worthy scene) and eager to engage elderlywoman (one who has an entire era named after her) falling back in lovewith life as she fights off "the banquet of eternity". Come for thelaughs and the performance of Dame Judi just not for a historylesson.
Abdul Karim arrives from India to participate in Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. The young clerk is surprised to find favor with the queen herself. As Victoria questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance that her household and inner circle try to destroy. As their friendship deepens, the queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes, joyfully reclaiming her humanity.