Movies: Victoria & Abdul

This movie has been on my watch list for a while now, but I'll admit the reason I finally did sit down and watch it is that I'm reading Eddie Izzard's memoir and he mentions being in the movie. I thought, Really? And then he said he played Bertie, and I thought, Oh, but Bertie was such a dick. So then I kind of had to see Eddie Izzard play a dick.

Anyway, I don't pretend to know how much of this is true. That Queen Victoria had an Indian servant for the last fifteen years of her reign is documented, but the rest . . . It turns out Abdul kept a diary that was made public in 2010, so I  guess that's where a lot of this comes from?

Victoria had a reputation for making fast, deep, and sometimes strange attachments. That she was drawn to Abdul Karim was, perhaps, not so surprising, but the people around her were alarmed at his rapid rise in her household. This movie . . . I won't say "explores" that because that suggests something deeper. This movie skims that. It passes over in a very surface way the fact that Victoria had this servant—she made him a kind of teacher—and lots of people didn't like it. I won't even say it delved into the bond between the titular characters because it didn't really. We understand Abdul has a kind of awe of Victoria, but he also lies to her, and then there is another Indian character who basically fades into the background until he dies of bad English weather.

I dunno. I wanted to like this movie, but it was only kind of meh.

I will say Dame Judi does a marvelous job as per usual, and Eddie Izzard really does pull off being an absolute dick. Ali Fazal as Abdul also does nice work. The frilly extra characters, however, do feel a bit like caricatures. And the main characters are stuck with an unfortunately shallow script. The whole movie is like jumping from one puddle to the next, but there's so little water that nothing really makes a splash.

Anyway, it was okay. Very pretty to look at. But not anything that requires a lot of attention. It just glides gently by without leaving any mess.

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