This was more 'okay' than I was expecting, it aspiring to be on an epic scale (which the subject justifies) but constrained by its time dimension of well under two hours, and the (to me) clumsy inclusion of a love story which jarred and put on the brakes for the more interesting bigger picture every time it turned up. Others may be more favourably disposed to this section than I was. But it was plainly obvious what director Gurinder Chadha was doing, depicting a small-scale personal relationship between two young people, one Hindu and one Muslim, as a metaphor for the huge subject of the partition of India in 1947 into Pakistan (East and West) and India itself based primarily on separating the, respectively, Muslim and Hindu majority religions of those areas.
Hugh Bonneville plays Lord Mountbatten, given the task by the recently elected Labour government in London to be India's last viceroy and to see through the partition. The splendid Gillian Anderson is his Lady wife, one of the film's delights every time she appears (which is regularly), each word of hers spoken like an elocution coach. I was also pleased to see Michael Gambon given a fairly substantial role when I'd feared he might have been in semi- or complete retirement by now. He appeared to be still spry enough to carry on for a while yet.
The cast also includes the final screen appearance of recently deceased, established actor Om Puri.
The developing political situation, fraught with tensions, is played out well, both between the British 'overlords' and their anticipated Indian/Pakistani successors, a potentially friction-packed subject reflected in the divided allegiances of the staff of the residence of the film's title.
I did feel now and again that the script spelt out in simplistic terms the issues involved, as though the film's audience weren't aware of them - which, for all I know, could well be true for a younger audience of today.
Sensibly largely unobtrusive music score is by no less than the renowned A.R.Rahman.
Gurinder Chadha has made some quite pleasing films in her career ('Bhaji on the Beach', 'Bend it like Beckham', Bride and Prejudice' etc - all films on a small, localised scale). Maybe 'Viceroy's House' confirms that that is the milieu to which she is more suited and where she excels.
This film isn't 'bad' at all. It has positive attributes, though that jarring unsatisfactory romantic subplot above all takes it down a couple of notches for me......................6.
2 hours ago