Saturday, May 27, 2017

Movie Review … Viceroy’s House

Audiences enjoy good historical dramas.  The genre seems to be going through a boom with several TV and films delving into the past.  The early part of the 20th century especially seems popular with the likes of ‘Downton Abbey’ and others finding favour.  ‘Viceroy’s House’ uses one of ‘Downton Abbey’s’ leads which should help carry over some of its audience.  As with any good historical essay, it revels in its elegant costumes and gripping story that should appeal to audiences of all ages.

In 1947, British India was in the stages of beginning its independence.  Splitting the land into India and Pakistan, the task for those in charge was monumental.  The head of this taskforce was Lord Louis Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville).  Attempting to oversee a peaceful transition, his efforts were made harder by different sides opposing change. Aided by his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson), Louis faced hurdles at every corner at an important moment in history.

As an educational document of a defining moment in 20th century history, ‘Viceroy’s House’ is engaging.  How Mountbatten’s compassionate idealism was at odds with his role demanding it ‘do the right thing by Britain’ is compelling.  His wife’s influence on his thoughts shine through with the romance between Jeet (Manish Dayal) and Aalia (Huma Qureshi) providing another interesting layer.  Jeet’s and Aalia’s religious differences become a metaphor for the split India faces and the tumultuous times ahead.

These elements are conveyed with competent ease by director Gurinder Chadha.  With her own family having lived through the painful aftermath of independence, Chadha infuses the film with genuine authenticity.  This extends to the locations and period detail which is excellent. Whilst the script occasionally leans towards narrative clichés, the central true story remains consistently fascinating.  The cast provide genuine conviction to their roles as people conflicted by their beliefs.

Whilst not quite the engrossing historical biopic it wants to be, ‘Viceroy’s House’ still captivates.  It strives for quality drama and it succeeds. History devotees should admire its consistently high production values proving audience’s love affair with the genre will continue unabated.

Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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