Judi Dench and Ali Fazal in a scene from "Victoria And Abdul"
Photo by Focus Features, courtesy of the Venice Film Festival
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Grouchy, greedy and constipated – nobody could accuse Stephen Frears of kowtowing with his portrayal of Queen Victoria in his new film "Victoria & Abdul".Frears' film, which premiered Sunday, is being shown out of competition at the Venice festival, where the director received a lifetime achievement award at a gala ceremony.The Victoria Abdul first encounters is frail and unhappy, a morbidly obese compulsive eater who is incapable of getting through her wolfed-down meals without smearing food across her face.Dench said the offer to play Victoria again had been an "irresistible proposition".Abdul's story, and the remarkable fact that Victoria learned sufficient Urdu to write letters in it – she initially knew so little of India she had to ask Abdul to describe a mango – went untold for over a century, largely because of Bertie's efforts to destroy all evidence of it.Invariably sprinkled liberally with kisses, Victoria describes her protege in one as a "true friend".
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