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Victoria & Abdul another winner for Dench

DAME Judi Dench is a marvel of precision acting, this much we already know.

However, now she is into her 80s, we should gently remind ourselves this gem won’t be sparkling on our screens forever.

As Dench has played the famously long-serving, short-tempered British monarch Queen Victoria before, this lightweight period biopic set in the ruler’s twilight years should be a walk in the park.

Nevertheless, Dench sets a cracking clip, forcing the rest of the movie to keep up with her impish, sly and open-hearted performance.

This is the story of Queen Vic’s unusual relationship with Abdul Karim (played by Bollywood star Ali Fazal), a lowly clerk from India who rose through the ranks of the royal household to become her closest confidante and spiritual adviser.

Karim had originally only intended to visit Great Britain for less than a week when he first arrived in 1887.

For reasons the film quickly hustles out of the way, Karim was asked by his superiors to personally deliver a ceremonial coin to the Queen on behalf of all her subjects in India.

However, after causing a sensation at the coin presentation — come on now, people were easily shocked back then — Victoria decides she likes the cut of this Abdul fellow’s jib.

The unlikely pair become inseparable, despite the sizeable age, class and communication gaps that are all in play.

Much of this malarky probably didn’t really happen, but it doesn’t really matter.

Dench and Fazal are a very endearing screen teaming, particularly when merrily drawing disapproving stares from the stuffiest shirts inside Buckingham Palace.

VICTORIA AND ABDUL (PG)

Rating: three stars (3 out of 5)

Director: Stephen Frears (Philomena)

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Michael Gambon, Olivia Williams.

Dame Judi queens up spotlessly again

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