Viceroy's House 1.0 stars

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Synopsis

Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) directs an account of the British transfer of power in India that is at once too personal and too political; perhaps with another half-hour of runtime, she might have done justice to both. As it is, neither aspect feels fully realized, the former too soapy and neat, the latter too vague and chaotic. And both favor explanations and speeches to a fault, as if in acknowledgment that there just isn't time to show everything that needs showing. The personal: a former prison guard is assigned to the staff of the last Viceroy of India, and once he arrives at the titular House (which gleams with what Kipling might have called more than oriental splendor), our Hindu hero finds the girl to whom he lost his heart, the Muslim daughter of one of his former prisoners. (Their differences mirror those of the nation, which teeters on the brink of civil war even as it nears its long-awaited independence.) The political: the titular Viceroy arrives and sets about the work of diplomacy among political factions while his progressive and inexhaustible wife (a standout Gillian Anderson) does the same on the cultural front. It's handsome, important, and moving in places, but it just isn't enough movie for the subject matter. WIth Hugh Bonneville and Manish Dayal.

Matthew Lickona

Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Rated: NR

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