Victoria and Abdul review round-up: Judi Dench shines in an otherwise underwhelming film

FP Staff

Oct 06, 2017 17:05:10 IST

Judi Dench and Ali Fazal's biographical comedy-drama Victoria and Abdul released on 15 October. Critics have spoken and it looks like Judi Dench aced her role as Queen Victoria the second time, the first being in the 1997 film Mrs Brown.

However, it looks like even Dench could not save this ship from sinking. The badly executed punches, which end up making the film look like a "clownish comedy", it can be said that the film could not deliver fully.

 Victoria and Abdul review round-up: Judi Dench shines in an otherwise underwhelming film

Poster of Victoria and Abdul.

Robbie Collin writes for the Telegraph, "Prise off the lid and inside you’ll find an expectedly sensational performance from Dench, who returns to a role she played (and won a Bafta for) 20 years ago in Mrs Brown. But this time, there’s no bushy-bearded Billy Connolly in sight, and almost nothing for the actress to push against – least of all Abdul himself, who remains a doe-eyed and fawning blank slate throughout."

About Fazal's character, "He does become annoying, largely because the film gives him a genial glow instead of a character, and banks on you not noticing the difference."

Owen Gleiberman in his review for The Variety presents a fresh take on the film, delving into the colonial aspect of it. He says, "Abdul, as a man, remains dutiful, devoted, saintly, obsequious, servile. Maybe that’s accurate, maybe not, but in a mainstream middlebrow drama coming out in 2017, it gives one a bit of pause, because it reinforces a point-of-view toward the British colonization of India that comes off as myopic and, frankly, a little too old-fashioned for comfort."

In his review for the Daily Mail, Matthew Bond writes, "Setting off at an almost indecent pace, director Stephen Frears, whose recent hits include Philomena and Florence Foster Jenkins, peppers his narrative with cheap gags about royal bowel movements, repeated references to ‘an incident with an elephant’ and the lack of medal-bearing trays at Windsor Castle. Even a wobbly and faintly phallic-looking jelly is played for laughs. I don’t know about you but this was certainly not what I was expecting from a film that reunites Frears with the great Judi Dench and reunites Dench herself with the royal role that she last played 20 years ago in the Bafta-winning Mrs Brown."

All critics have appreciated the film's casting, saying that everyone plays their part well, in a film that is otherwise lazy.


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Updated Date: Oct 06, 2017 17:05:10 IST