VICTORIA & ABDUL
2017, Focus Features , 106 min, Dir: Stephen Frears

A humorous exploration of race, religion, power and the farce of Empire through the prism of an unusual and deeply moving friendship, this extraordinary true story had been deliberately hidden for a century. In 1887, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) travels from India to present a ceremonial medal as part of Queen Victoria’s (Judi Dench) Golden Jubilee but surprisingly finds favor with the elderly monarch. The unprecedented and unlikely relationship causes a battle royale within the royal household, pitting the queen against court and family.


PHILOMENA
2013, The Weinstein Company, 98 min, UK, Dir: Stephen Frears

Decades after giving up a child to nuns for adoption, Philomena Lee (Judi Dench in a tour de force performance) travels to America to try to find her son. Journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the screenplay), sensing a great human interest story, travels with her, and both make surprising discoveries along the way. PHILOMENA gives a dark chapter of recent Irish history a human dimension thanks to director Stephen Frears’ deft blend of drama and humor.


PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
2005, Focus Features, 128 min, UK, Dir: Joe Wright

Keira Knightley throws off sparks as independent Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters whom parents (Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn) and aunt (Judi Dench) are hoping to marry off to local gentry in Georgian-era England. But the arrival of two eligible young bachelors, Mr. Darcy (Mathew Macfadyen) and Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods), throws a spanner into the works. Jena Malone also sparkles as the youngest and least mature sister, Lydia. Director Joe Wright puts an equal emphasis on period and emotional realism as well as romance and humor, balancing the elements as to not only remain faithful to but enhance the trenchant social observations of Jane Austen’s original classic novel


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