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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Mixed message: Well-meaning people work together to come to a difficult political compromise, but it leads to lots of bloodshed and conflict that continues today.
Positive Role Models
Amid the political conflict and plotting are smart, dedicated people struggling to do the right thing. Historical figures portrayed in a positive light include Lord Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mahatma Gandhi. Ordinary people exhibit bravery and loyalty to family. The characters are mostly Indian, though most of the leads are white British people.
Violence & Scariness
No bloodshed on-screen, but the aftermath of violent conflicts is shown. Tensions run high, and rioting is shown from a distance. One confrontation involves spitting and a punch. A main female character is seen with injuries after being thrown from a train.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The central couple pines for each other and touches longingly. No nudity or overt sexual contact.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Viceroy's House is an earnest historical drama that attempts to explain why India became two countries (India and Pakistan) when England gave up its imperial rule. This means that religious intolerance is depicted, sometimes violently. There are also scenes of rioting and confrontation, and injuries are shown after a character is thrown from a train. The movie attempts to explore the points of view of well-meaning British officials and both average Indian citizens and luminaries like Gandhi and Nehru. The film has been banned in Pakistan, presumably for its disapproving view of that country's creation. It might not hold most younger viewers' interest, with its high amount of exposition and its unconvincing love story (which involves longing looks and touches but nothing more graphic). But it's at least a stab at getting the Indian side of this story out to mainstream Western audiences. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a fairly standard historical drama with the twist of earnestly trying to explore the ambitions of both the rulers and the ruled. Viceroy's House is tripped up by clunky exposition as it tries to explain the social and political context of the time/situation. The romantic subplot, unfortunately, feels plastered on, rather than natural. And the storytelling relies on what might generously be called remarkable coincidences. But the three lead performances are solid. Anderson fares best, convincingly portraying empathy.
The "view from the crowd" can be attributed to veteran director Gurinder Chadha. Chadha is a British citizen of Indian descent who's best known for Bend It Like Beckham and other explorations of the lives of Indian and British-Indian women. A postscript reveals that Viceroy's House is personally significant to her -- but sadly, that passion doesn't translate to the screen. Politically, the film clearly leans against the creation of Pakistan and completely absolves Mountbatten (casting him as a practical humanist who was manipulated by Jinnah and Churchill), even though Partition led to the humanitarian disaster of millions of people being displaced and even nuclear-fueled tensions in the region today.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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