MOVIE REVIEW: Viceroy's House has Brit power
SOMETIMES you can't beat a good old fashioned historical drama, full of lavish costumes, recreations of famous moments and the delivery of a story to make you think, long after you've got in the car for the drive home.
Plus if you are still in mourning for the demise of Downton Abbey, that has long since vanished from our TV screens, then the new movie Viceroy's House is one you should definitely consider.
A product of BBC Films, this is under the guidance of Gurinder Chadha (the director of Bend It Like Beckham) and has 'British TV drama' written all over it.
The year is 1947.
After over three centuries of British rule, India and its millions of citizens sit on the verge of independence. Crippled by debt from the Second World War, England is keen to speed up the process, and sends Lord Louis Mountbatten (played by Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville), and his wife Lady Edwina Mountbatten (Gillian Anderson) to the infernal heat of India to oversee things.
It proved no easy task, with the nation on the verge of civil war. Religion begins to tear the country apart, with Moslems, Sikhs and Hindus fighting amongst each other in the hope of getting their own space in a nation that is preparing for borders to be drawn up.
To many, the story of Indian independence hasn't been addressed on western screens since Ben Kingsley donned his sandals in 1982's Ghandi, and Viceroy's House brings to life this fascinating part of history that led to the creation of not one, but two nations.
Bonneville is perfectly cast in the role as Lord Mountbatten - a man who was credited with freeing Burma, which led to his appointment in India. He brings a believability to the role that leaves you in no doubt that this was a man who at times felt overwhelmed by the task he was given but retained his 'King and Country' dedication to a shrinking empire.
Another stand-out is Gillian Anderson, who nails a refined English accent to the point where you forget that she's an American actress. Meryl Streep will be envious when she sees this movie.
A fine supporting cast including Simon Callow and Michael Gambon give added 'Brit power' to the cast of characters but it is India itself that shines as Viceroy's House takes its time to make these historical events easy to follow, despite all the plot twists and negotiations that brought about the end of British rule.
The partition of India was an immensely important event, which resulted in 14 million people leaving their homes. It was the largest migration in human history, and another million died as a result of the violence, disease and starvation.
Clocking in at 105 minutes, Viceroy's House is a fascinating story of how two modern nations were born, while another watched its empire shrink. It moves along at a pace that never stops to capture your attention, and there are enough sub plots to keep your mind ticking over until the very end.
With excellent casting, a great attention to detail, lavish settings and quality writing, this is one movie that has a ready-made audience who will lap up the drama of a time long since gone.
Times sure have changed, but quality stories from human history will never go out of fashion, as Viceroy's House proves. This is a fine piece of work from a director who has a passion for telling stories about the strength of the human spirit in turbulent times.
Viceroy's House opens on Thursday.
Stars: Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon, Hugh Bonneville.
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Verdict: 4 stars