Art and Experience: Tell your mom to maker her calendar, because Stephen Frears and Dame Judi Dench are coming in hot with another highbrow tearjerker, “Victoria and Abdul,” which released its first trailer today. Based on a true story, the film chronicles the unlikely friendship between Queen Victoria (Dench) and an Indian clerk named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) during the later years of her reign.
A powerhouse team, the “Philomena” director and star team up with “Billy Elliot” screenwriter Lee Hall, who adapts from the novel by Shrabani Basu. Set in the twilight of her life, the Queen meets Abdul when he travels to London for her jubilee celebration. The unlikely duo form a convivial bond, much to the dismay of her protective and power hungry inner circle. As the friendship deepens, she begins to question the limits of her role and her worldview, and invites Abdul to educate her about what she has been missing.
The trailer is full of humor; Abdul teaches the Queen about mangos and they giggle about wobbly jello and scratchy kilts. Michael Gambon makes a few appearances as former Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, and one can briefly spot Eddie Izzard as her son, Bertie, who became King Edward VII. A Focus Features production, “Victoria and Abdul” opens in theaters this September.