The pounding hooves that whisk us through the pre-credit montage recall the manner of storytelling audiences lapped up throughout the ‘60s, but which is now the stuff that Hallmark Channel dramas are made of. Produced on the cheap, though it seldom shows, first time director Swati Bhise cushions the history lesson with typically epical sword-and-sandal battle scenes — with an emphasis on the former — to tell the real life story of Rani (strong work from Devika Bhise), a feminist icon in India. Looking to use name recognition to put butts in seats, the press release likens the 24-year old General to “the Joan of Arc of the East” or a “real-life Wonder Woman.” What the studio didn’t play up was the rare teaming of mother/director and daughter/actress. (There’s Elaine May and Jeannie Berlin’s The Heartbreak Kid and Tamar and Susanna Hoffs’ The Allnighter. Who am I forgetting?) With expert supporting work from Jodhi May as Queen Victoria, and as Sir Hugh Rose, Rupert Everett hasn’t been this much fun to watch since My Best Friend’s Wedding. (2019) — Scott Marks
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