Jedidiah Rose’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's quite funny to me to see the mental gymnastics of some reviewers on LB with this one, so badly do some LB users want to brush this one away but then feel compelled to think twice on account of it being directed by a woman and then yet still of Indian origin. As a mostly conservative nationalist and staunchly pro-Imperialist I do enjoy instances in life where there's a headspace scramble in people who stand in opposition to me on these counts.
I'd love to say that this movie was the powerful drama it should be given it's subject matter, but it never quite gets there and it's a bit cheap to say because of who's starring in it, but there's so much of this movie that feels like it's wandered into Downtown Abbey melodrama that it sits in spite of the serious historical event that otherwise drives the narrative. The loss of India to independence and the manner in which it played out should always be a stain on the legacy of my nation's involvement with the subcontinent, the side was very much let down and very much in public and when the third act kicks in and really exemplifies the horror of those days that's when Viceroy's House is at it's best but it wastes to much time getting there unfortunately.
Such is the vastness of the subject of India and Pakistan's independence's and the fallout of the partitioning I think a single movie is always going to struggle with fully realizing the story satisfactorily, and probably to have so much of the focus of this story on the outgoing British aristocracy and not the people of those two nations ultimately doesn't sit well and nor should it one supposes.
There's some degree of populism here sure, this is a story that's largely in favour of India and against the partition and creation of Pakistan almost as much as it is decrying the legacy of my country's rule over the subcontinent. I'm less bothered about than some others whose reviews I've read, but it's just another aspect of this movie where if you come at it politically then it's going to be a harder watch as consequence.
I did like the performances of the cast in telling the story that they did here to the movie's credit, and as I say that third act is where the movie really gets going, so I don't think this is a totally wasted venture and period drama fans will enjoy it for sure.