Kwinana Courier - - Entertainment -

UN­LIKELY friend­ships between odd cou­ples are a com­mon enough topic in films, but the fun twist with Vic­to­ria & Ab­dul is the his­tor­i­cal con­text and lack of un­der­ly­ing ro­mance.

Dur­ing the 1800s, In­dian clerk Ab­dul Karim (Ali Fazal) is cho­sen to present a gift to Queen Vic­to­ria (Judi Dench) for her Golden Ju­bilee.

De­spite strict be­havioural rules, the young man locks eyes with the stuffy, crusty Queen and, in­trigued by his hand­some­ness, she keeps him on to teach her about In­dian cul­ture and the lan­guage.

The two be­come friendly to

the point the Queen decks out a wing in the palace for Ab­dul and his fam­ily – much to the anger of her son and house staff.

A ma­jor bonus point in this oth­er­wise fa­mil­iar story that de­vel­ops in a rou­tine fash­ion is that there is not a smidge of ro­mance between the two leads – not even a hint. It is rare that we see friend­ship de­picted between a man and a woman with­out it toy­ing with an un­der­ly­ing sex­ual qual­ity.

Di­rec­tor Stephen Frears, the man be­hind Mrs Hen­der­son Presents, The Queen and Philom­ena, dishes up what he does best: a light, heart-warm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with a tinge of pathos that ap­peals mainly to the older crowd.

That is not nec­es­sar­ily a crit­i­cism; it is a de­mo­graphic of­ten over­looked that de­serves to be catered for.

How­ever, Frears ap­pears to be set­tled in an aw­fully com­fort­able po­si­tion in his sto­ry­telling.

Judi Dench with Ali Fazal.

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