‘Victoria & Abdul’ Trailer: Judi Dench Strikes an Unlikely Friendship, Starts an Oscar Campaign

Focus Features has released the first trailer for Victoria & Abdul, the new film from The Queen and High Fidelity filmmaker Stephen Frears. Scripted by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), the film is based on the true story of Queen Victoria’s latter years, when she befriended a young clerk from India named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) and subsequently struck an unlikely and deep friendship that was looked down upon by her contemporaries. This looks like the kind of “nice” movie that Frears often makes, not unlike his recent Philomena, and just as with that film Dench looks to be delivering yet another terrific performance.

When you pair Frears, Dench, and Focus Features it’s hard not to think of Oscar, and indeed the film’s September release date seems to suggest the studio may be unveiling the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival and kicking off an awards campaign—which is exactly the track that was taken with Philomena. Could we be watching the trailer for an eventual Best Actress or Best Picture nominee? I’d bet pretty hard on the former at this admittedly early stage, and it’ll be curious to see how things shake out. Just another reminder that even though it’s May, it’s never too early for studios to start thinking Oscars.

Watch the Victoria & Abdul trailer below. The film also stars Adeel Akhtar, Simon Callow, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Ruth McCabe, Tim Pigott-Smith, Julian Wadham, Olivia Williams, and Fenella Woolgar. Victoria & Abdul opens in select theaters on September 22nd and expands to more theaters on September 29th.

Here’s the official synopsis for Victoria & Abdul:

The extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s (Academy Award winner Judi Dench) remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.

Image via Focus Features

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