Richard Attenborough's epic biography revives the British style of the 60s with its balanced compositions, tasteful landscape photography, impeccable art direction, and dry, theatrical acting. Yet Attenborough's work lacks even the undercurrent of personality that David Lean brought to his films: the film has no flavor but that of the standard Hollywood hagiography, in which the hero is rhetorically elevated to sainthood by systematically stripping him of all his psychology and inner life. Luckily, Ben Kingsley is charismatic enough in the title role to command some warmth and interest, and the film is paced so quickly—rushing through 55 years of hastily exposited history—that it's never really boring. Attenborough has an annoying tendency to keep white identity figures next to the mahatma at all times, as if a racial barrier had to be crossed; some of them are played by Martin Sheen, Ian Charleson, and Candice Bergen. PG, 188 min.
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