Dame Judi Dench Returns to Her Rightful Seat as the Queen in ‘Victoria and Abdul’ Trailer
As a certified Dame, actress and living treasure Judi Dench might as well be royalty — she’s certainly played it enough. She won the Academy Award for a blink-and-you-miss-it turn as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, and breathed new life into Victoria with the 1997 film Mrs. Brown. And after a two-decade hiatus, Dench will reprise the role of the nineteenth-century ruler for her next big film project, Victoria and Abdul. The newly released trailer wants to make one thing abundantly clear: yes, she will deliver one of those trademark Dench speeches, the kind that draws Oscar voters like moths to a high-prestige flame.
In 1887, Indian Muslim citizen Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal, a Bollywood fixture who also appeared in Furious 7) was selected to be one of two new manservants to the Queen, an appointment he was informed would be a great honor. But upon his arrival, he drew scorn from most of the figures around the Palace, excepting the Queen, who came to embrace Abdul as a confidante and close personal friend. The film tracks the blossoming bond between the two unlikely pals, as Abdul showed the avowed imperialist that the far-off lands of the British Empire deserved her respect, and what’s more, renewed her zest for life as she slid into old age.
The pearls-and-furs drama should be a slam dunk for director Stephen Frears, who’s made a career (and amassed a slew of Oscar attention) for such period pieces as The Queen, Philomena, and Florence Foster Jenkins. A September 22 release should leave Frears and his stars sitting pretty for awards consideration, so long as public opinion doesn’t sour on the film’s rather soft treatment of Victoria and her colonialist policies. For a lady who buddied up to an Indian expatriate, she did still hobble the nation for years.