Viceroy's House Reviewed By Jarred Tito

The Premise
The final Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, is tasked with overseeing the transition of British India to independence, but meets with conflict as different sides clash in the face of monumental change.

The Review
An interesting film that will no doubt spark some thoughtful dialogue between historians that have their specific view of what really happened when the 300-year occupation of India by the British empire finally came to an abrupt end. Apparently, it only took Lord Mountbatten a total of six weeks to wrap up England’s occupation of India which was a decision based on the fact that England was overspent during the war effort against the Germans and nothing to do with Gandhi’s resistance movements etc. I can hear the arguments already. Well in spite of whatever your political view of historical events may lead you to believe about this film, the film itself is actually quite well made and most definitely worth venturing out for. Hopefully it will lead to a few discussions which quietly could be part of Chadha’s underlying motivation. At the beginning of Viceroy’s House, a well-known saying appears, “history is always written by the victor”, and one would have to concede that this is certainly the case with this film.

In terms of her production where the budget is concerned, Guinder Chadha has certainly come a long way since 2002 when her movie, ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, launched her into filmmaking stardom. Viceroy’s House is made with all of the budget and splendor that was characteristic of the many films that were made during the golden age of the Hollywood. It’s quite possibly not since Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’, that we have seen such a colossal production come from a British driven production. The sheer size and epic[ness] of this production probably warrants a viewing at the theatre. Visually, there are many scenes which are quite frankly breathtaking, and for this reason, irrespective of one’s own version of the ‘facts’, provides enough reward should you choose to see it.

That being said, there are many other fine qualities included in this epic production. For example, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Mountbatten is nothing short of superb. I always enjoy his performances. He’s one of those English actors that really suits time period roles, even possibly more than a contemporary one. When I see him in a role like this I feel as though I am actually, somehow, looking back into the past. In my opinion, Bonneville is largely underappreciated on an international level. He is certainly well deserving of any award/s that may come his way as a result of this part. Overall the cast is very strong and convincing which is always a pleasure to see, especially in such a big production.

It was also good to see Gillian Anderson, who was made internationally famous for her role as Dana Scully in the X Files, play quite a challenging role. She really is quite convincing as Mrs. Edwina Mountbatten. I must add here too that it would have been good to have seen some of the Indian character’s role fleshed out a little more as I believe Chadha, of all popular directors, could have added real empathy given her ancestry regarding Pakistan and India. I enjoyed her insightfulness back in 2002 with ‘Bend It Like Beckham.’ I’m not sure why she didn’t bring more of the ‘Indian’ dialogue to the forefront of the story. I’m sure that it could have only made the storyline more interesting. Of course, Gandhi’s character appears in the story and the actor who plays him is surely a direct descendent or at least a cousin because the likeness to Gandhi is uncanny.   

The Verdict
A movie of epic proportion that will appeal to you on several levels. It’s made well, in terms of filmmaking and performances. The costumes and sets are simply amazing. Whether or not you’ll agree entirely with the retelling of such an important historical event is something that you will have to decide yourself. As a movie enthusiast, I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy this film. I personally love a well-made timepiece.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 4th May 2017
Rating: M – Contains Content that may disturb
Duration: 106 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon, Hugh Bonneville
Director: Gurinder Chadha (Angus,Thongs and Perfect Snogging)

The Extras
The first film to be released in British cinemas in two languages: English and Hindi.

Om Puri (Ali Rahim Noor) previously played Nahari in Gandhi (1982), which likewise dealt with the Partition of India in 1947.

The film takes place in 1947.