A sorta-sequel to Mrs Brown deals effectively with another of Queen Victoria’s unconventional friendships and reprises Judi Dench’s powerful and unparalleled portrayal.
This funny, touching adap of Shrabani Basu’s 2010 biography has its own chemistry, withering wit and unsentimental message of acceptance. A royal treat.
The Hollywood Reporter
Fine performances from a cast of pros generally win out over the story's more formulaic aspects.
Victoria & Abdul is a movie that flirts with exploring prejudice, cultural tension, power, and religion, but never really consummates the ideas. At best, it tries to humorously dismantle the absurdity of empires and royalty, but that’s about as subversive as it gets.
The film’s lavish production values and a comic register more impish than truly acerbic makes this a surprisingly cosy piece of luxury heritage cinema.
Frears’ film is all nostalgia and inertia – a tale ablaze with historical import and contemporary resonance, reduced to commemorative biscuit tin proportions.
There’s not much to Victoria & Abdul, but as a delivery system for Judi Dench, it serves its purpose. Otherwise, it’s just Buckingham Palace fetishism cranked up to peak mumsy.
Victoria & Abdul is an otherwise benignly toothless, pleasantly glossy affair, but it does force us to confront one tricky question: When treating a subject as fraught as British imperial rule, when does a film’s benign inoffensiveness become offensive in and of itself?
What a peculiarly dodgy, conservative film this is – a lazy salute to a good queen and her faithful Indian servant. It’s a film about the Raj era that looks as if it was made back then, too.
It is difficult to work out what to dislike most about Victoria and Abdul: the literal foot-licking or the cliché-ridden plot, but the greatest shame is the waste of a genuinely fascinating piece of history and a world-class Judi Dench performance.