Focus Features has unveiled the first trailer as well as artwork for their forthcoming biographical drama Victoria and Abdul starring Oscar winner Judi Dench. The regal feature places Dench in a familiar role, that of Queen Victoria – notably the actress previously essayed Victoria in the 1997 film Mrs. Brown, a performance that earned the actress an Oscar nomination as well as considerable critical acclaim – and explores the unlikely relationship between the royal and a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim. Stephen Frears, who previously collaborated with Dench on Philomena and Mrs. Henderson Presents (both of which earned her additional Oscar nominations), directs from a screenplay by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot); the movie is adapted from Shrabani Basu’s novel Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant.
The synopsis reads, “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.”
Frears most recently directed the period bio Florence Foster Jenkins, which earned an Oscar nomination for leading lady Meryl Streep. Simon Callow, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Ruth McCabe, Tim Pigott-Smith, Julian Wadham, Olivia Williams and Fenella Woolgar co-star. Victoria and Abdul opens in theaters on, beginning in limited release, on September 22nd. A theatrical expansion is scheduled for September 29th.