Review: Dame Judi Dench spell-binding in new film 'Victoria and Abdul' Special

Posted Sep 23, 2017 by Markos Papadatos
Dame Judi Dench reprises her role as British monarch Queen Victoria in the new period drama "Victoria and Abdul," which was released on September 22.
Victoria and Abdul
Victoria and Abdul
Focus Features
Ironically enough, Dame Judi takes on the role 20 years after her stellar Oscar-nominated performance as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown. Stephen Frears (who directed The Queen and Philomena) served as the director of this period masterpiece, with Lee Hall as screenwriter.
The film starts out with Queen Victoria at 81 years old, being the most powerful female monarch in the world, where she has almost one billion citizens. This was based on a true story. She has been in office for 62 years, thus making her the longest-serving monarch in history.
Ali Fazal is a revelation as her humble Indian servant Abdul, who becomes her teacher (teaching her Urdu and the Quran) throughout this compelling motion picture, in what appeared to be an unlikely yet prolific friendship. "We are here for a greater purpose," he said, in one of the most dynamic lines in the film.
The Verdict
Overall, Dame Judi Dench deserves to be nominated, and to win, the "Best Actress" Academy Award for her mesmerizing performance as Queen Victoria in Victoria and Abdul. She was transformative in this role, as she is in every role that she tackles, but in Victoria and Abdul, she gave the performance of a lifetime; moreover, she added a great deal of depth to her character: the queen was witty, intense, vulnerable, understanding, dramatic and very decisive. Most impressive is the fact that she was able to get in the conscience of a stubborn yet powerful queen.
Dame Judi was snubbed before for this role, losing the "Best Actress" Academy Award to Helen Hunt (As Good as It Gets), but in this sequel, the acting doyenne should finally get her "Best Actress" Oscar due. She commands every single scene she is in, and the same holds true for Fazal in his subtle performance as Abdul. Stephen Frears did an excellent job on the direction of the film. Victoria and Abdul garners an A+ rating.