Were Judi Dench not so frustratingly exceptional in her second turn as the Queen of Britain and Empress of India, Victoria and Abdul might have just about gotten away with being a forgettable cinematic oddity. Unfortunately, for the film, Dench remains here impeachable as ever, effortlessly casting all that around her beneath the dustiest of shadows. Unable to come close to the talent it has secured, Victoria and Abdul is a great disappointment; a film with all of the potential but none of the ambition. It’s fine but that’s all.
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Very occasionally, history offers epochal anecdotes so cinematic in their telling that it is hard not to imagine the real event as having been written and produced by Hollywood itself. The May to June evacuation of the British Army from the beaches at Dunkirk in the second year of the Second World War is exactly one such moment. Indeed, an unlikely tale of heroism in which underdogs overcome all odds to seize victory from the grasps of defeat, the story of Dunkirk has gifted, in many ways, a exemplary template for decades of cinematic offerings.
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