4 August 2017 | lesleyw5
Worth seeing but goes soft on real human tragedy of the Partition
Saw this in English in a French cinema with the French title displayed as "Le Dernier Viceroi de l'Inde" = The Last Viceroy of India, instead of a literal translation i.e. "La Maison du Viceroi". In fact, I didn't know what the original title was until seeing it on IMDb. The French title subtly shifts the focus of the movie towards Mountbatten, rather than the 'house' itself.
It's clearly a very 'British' film with superb cast - Bonneville acts Mountbatten well but I felt he was physically/visually wrong; in contrast Anderson gives an excellent performance as his wife, Edwina, and Michael Gambon excels as a slimy, devious, political toad. The love story plot is a bit Bollywood soapy and predictably weepy - those of a sentimental nature should take a hankie. The political aspect is well-portrayed, but the main political characters appear stereotypes.
However in my view it goes way too soft on the terrible, frequently fatal, destructive consequences of the Partition on the forced migration of 14 million people and the deplorable decision to rush it through within a matter of weeks. Although there's a fair amount of original footage included to remind us of this human tragedy, it doesn't go far enough to make us squirm or feel too guilty. Perhaps that's a detachment the director intended. Has British guilt and fixation with its cruel past and how it ruled its empire now become a cliché? Is the criticism that we're looking at it through our 21st century politically-correct rose-tinted spectacles justified?
Other than that, a good enough film for those of us not too sceptical to still enjoy a political drama based around dubious events of Britain's chequered past.