Solid Storytelling: Our Review of ‘Hotel Mumbai’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 28, 2019
Solid Storytelling: Our Review of ‘Hotel Mumbai’

These true to life stories can remind of us of not only the bad, but the good things that we are truly capable of…

While it has a hard time shaking some expected by the numbers kind of moments, Hotel Mumbai succeeds in being a film that is not only genuinely harrowing at times, but reminds us of the moments of heroism that people are capable of.

A gripping true story of humanity and heroism, Hotel Mumbai vividly recounts the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel by a group of terrorists in Mumbai, India. Among the dedicated hotel staff is the renowned chef Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and a waiter (Dev Patel) who choose to risk their lives to protect their guests. As the world watches on, a desperate couple (Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi) is forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to protect their newborn child.

To be certain there are trappings in the genre that are just undeniable, but Hotel Mumbai pushes through them all with some strong performances and an overall narrative that doesn’t get political or heavy handed at any given time and allows the humanity of the story to shine through.

Writer/Director Anthony Maras is making his feature debut here with Hotel Mumbai and it is a surprisingly strong one.  The picture has a solid flow to it all, with well staged set pieces and characters that we care about without feeling like they are getting shoehorned into a story that is based on an actually event.  Maras is adapt at not only handling the necessary action and tension that is called for in a movie like this but at the same time he wasn’t afraid to let moments between characters breathe and draw some attention to not only the things that divide us as people but also those moments that bring us together.  We live in such a world where the fear of the unknown or the ‘other’ has gotten so pervasive that it has infected the highest levels of social and political life, this film actually takes care in reminding us that the core basics of humanity are something that we all appreciate and share together.   And while many moments of this story do have a harsh and near Hitchcockian level of tension to them, we embrace not just the story of the event but that of the people having to live through it.

It’s hardly a film that has any traditional leads in it, playing very much as an ensemble piece, but there is no denying that Dev Patel successfully commands the frame when he is it.  As a flustered father and employee simply trying to do right by those under his care, he allows a genuine nobility to shine through.  Sure his character is scared out of his mind and wants to return home to his family, but he has a clear sense of right and wrong.  He knows the only solution is the survival of everyone in his orbit and he takes great pains to make sure he’s successful, while also wearing great pain on his face when he knows he didn’t quite get there.

The ever stalwart Anupam Kher joins Patel in anchoring the ensemble and really managing to encapsulate the importance of the message that this film tries to get across.  In the face of all adversity, humanity will find the best in itself and stand tall.  These two are truly the heart of the film.  Sadly while there are some other interesting side stories an over acting Jason Isaacs and Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi as the newlywed couple just don’t get that much material to work with as the narrative keeps a steady pace and never bogs down with any one character or story tangent.

At the end of the day, Hotel Mumbai is a pretty good movie that is actually well on its way to being great; we just needed to feel more of a connection to the individual characters rather than the situation of the terrorist attack as a whole.

  • Release Date: 3/29/2019
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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