The facts are very true to life and it manages to explain a complex situation fairly easily, even if it does appear twee
India seems to be an untapped vein of magic for the rest of the world. For years Bollywood have produced their own thrilling works that really are unique, especially when compared to American works. Yet, with Lion released at the beginning of the year, and now Viceroy’s House, there are clearly many fantastical and fascinating stories originating from India that are still to be told, and this is finally being realised.
Viceroy’s House focuses on the time Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) spent as the last Viceroy of India, and his part in the country’s breakup into the states of India and Pakistan. Following his inaugeration, Viceroy’s House looks at the lives of real citizens and how they are affected by the complete splitting of a nation.
On the whole, Viceroy’s House is quite an educational production. The facts are very true to life and it manages to explain a complex situation fairly easily. The performances of Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi are excellent and really are the highlight of the film, even if it does appear twee at times.
Hugh Bonneville on the other hand is not great. He manages to turn the last Viceroy of India into himself in a supremely boring and underwhelming performance. Gillian Anderson is above average as Lady Mountbatten, but there is nothing exciting about their scenes together. In fact, the people of India wanted the British out of their country, and I want them out of this film. It could have easily placed more focus on the lives of Indian nationals and would have been better off for it.
The story however is well constructed and taken as a whole it is a quality production. The direction is worthwhile with a distinct style that could have easily become a complicated mess with the taxing subject matter. It feels real which is most of the battle and even though it doesn’t manage to exhume emotion it does look to serve the task of education admirably.
The real life elements much stronger than the ones featuring Bonneville and Anderson but really there is nothing wholly unique about Viceroy’s House. The message and facts it gets across are memorable and useful, but the film will not be remembered in quite the same way.