Viceroy’s House, from Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha, is less a narrative film than an elaborate history lesson.
Packed with people who simply move the action forward instead of being developed as characters, the closest the story of Lord Louis Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) and his role in transferring power from Britain to India — and the resulting partition in forming Pakistan — comes to revealing desires of any of its players is a half-baked forbidden romance between two palace workers.
Under Chadha’s mannered filmmaking, the film grows increasing melodramatic, though the key figures are pleasant — the casting of Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow helps — and the scenery and period detail are appealing. It’s not top-shelf Indiaphile material by any means, but it’ll do until Victoria & Abdul arrives in a few weeks.
Grade: B-minus. Not rated, but with adult themes and some grisly imagery. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: IFC Films)