"Victoria & Abdul"

God Save Dame Judi Dench. The interpretative and charismatic power of this beautiful woman in this movie means a change in her career, with more than forty films. Dench, like the queen Victoria of the Golden Jubilee —50th anniversary—, gets to complain and whimper, to eat in a non refined way at a royal banquet, to infuriate with her entourage, to sing a song by Gilbert and Sullivan, to dance a waltz, laugh, cry and give one of these devastating speeches and much more. The interpretation of this Dame of the British Empire assumes, I would affirm, a place guaranteed in the list of the Oscars of this year as the best actress, that she hasn’t won since 1998 when she played Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in love for only eight minutes, although she has won six nominations and many other major awards over the years.

Victoria and Abdul deeps in the history of the beloved friendship between Queen Victoria of England and an Indian employee, Abdul Karim, during the last years of her reign. The young Indian became a teacher ("the Munshi"), adviser and friend of the Queen. An alliance, as unusual as loyal, wich cracked the closest circle that coexisted within the court.

British filmmaker Stephen Frears turned 71 in June. He has been directing films for half a century. He was trained on television in the 1970s, and began to draw the attention of critics with films such as My beatiful laundrette (1985) and he devoted himself internationally with Dangerous liaisons (1998). Since then, Frears combines home-made budget-adjusted projects (The van) with Hollywood commissions (The Grifters) and dramatic prestige proposals (Philomena or The Queen). To this last group belongs Victoria and Abdul.

Ali Fazal and Dench

Ali Fazal and Dench

The script of Victoria & Abdul is based on a book by Indian journalist Shrabani Basu. It was she who, while preparing a story about the history of curry, was curious to know who was the person who appeared in many portraits of the rooms where Queen Victoria lived. At that time, she had already discovered the personal notes of HRH Victoria and Abdul. Written in the Urdu language, they are the only proofs preserved about the relationship between the Queen and Abdul. All correspondence exchanged between both was destroyed by King Edward VII, son of Victoria, after she passed away.

The film is fantastic and more than advisable, and Ali Fazal makes a very good interpretation of the Munshi. Dench is superb. She is a monumental presence and a focus of attention. The world is not enough for her and the movie is hers, of Dame Judi.