If I had to choose a favorite season of the year, it would definitely be the one we're in now, and not just because of the cooler temperatures and beautiful fall foliage, but because it's when the summer blockbuster movie season is finally, thankfully (for me) over, and Hollywood begins to trot out their important, "prestige" films for Oscar consideration. 'Victoria and Abdul' should be at the top of that list.
Based on the book of same name by Shrabani Basu, it's a film about the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim, and it's very, very good. It's being touted as the unofficial equal to the 1997 movie 'Mrs. Brown' in which Dame Judi Dench played a younger Victoria, and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She should definitely win one for playing the British sovereign in this one, because she's perfection in it.
The story is touching and intriguing, and addresses more themes about human relationships than I care to even go into here (love, regret, friendship, the trappings of fame, racism, religious intolerance, aging and death, to name a few). The first half is comedic, even romantic, and made me think of several other movies, including 'Harold and Maude' and 'The King and I'.
Ali Fazal is wonderful in the role, and especially during the first part kind of makes you fall in love with Abdul as you feel the Queens feelings for him move in that direction, as well.
The second half takes on a darker tone as several realities of life set in with the two principles, and it doesn't have what one would call a necessarily happy ending. But the life-affirming examination of how one life can affect another will not be lost on you. In that sense, it's a ver powerful film.