Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
Viceroy’s House (Pathe). In 1947, after three centuries, Britain is leaving India and Lord Mountbatten is in charge. The end of the Empire and the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan come at a cost of over a million lives. The task of drawing partition boundaries is impossible, hence the bloodbath. Gurinder Chadha’s epic takes an Upstairs/Downstairs approach, dividing her time between the politics, which is the real interest and a totally uninvolving and unnecessary Romeo and Juliet Hindu/Muslim love story in which nobody is interested. The Mountbattens (Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson), thoroughly decent, come out of the story well and there is not a hint that Edwina is having an affair with Nehru. Churchill is blamed for the massacres.
The Handmaiden (Artificial Eye) is a Korean film, directed by Chan-wook Park, set in Korea in 1930s when Korea was occupied by the Japanese. A con-man (Jung-woo Ha) posing as a count determines to seduce and marry a rich neurotic woman (Min-hee Kim) so he can put her in an asylum and get all her money. His accomplice (Tae-ri Kim) is a pickpocket who becomes the woman’s handmaiden. Who do you think of the three is the most gullible? Actually it could be you. The story – women rebelling against male domination – is told in three parts, the second part repeating the first part from a different perspective and coming up with a number of twists and surprises. The erotica and the reading of pornographic texts may be too explicit for some viewers.
Bridgend (Axiom). Troubled young people really have been killing themselves in Bridgend, a small Welsh town, during the last decade; but nobody has been able to find out why. Danish director Jeppe Rønde tells the story through a newcomer to the town, a teenage girl (Hannah Murray). She observes and participates in the rituals in the murky forest at night, which involve crazy shouting and nude bathing. She joins in with them when they trash the town. Jeppe offers neither explanation nor social commentary. The actors might as well have been speaking in Welsh.