In November of 2008, four
terrorists entered the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India. They began to
massacre everyone they came across. Without going into too much detail, the
siege lasted over 60 hours leaving many dead and injured. First time feature
filmmaker Anthony Maras brings this story to life in Hotel Mumbai.
Hotel Mumbai stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Tilda Cobham-Hervey,
Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs and Anupam Kher. Dev is Arjun, a waiter at the
hotel. His performance is absolutely. The emotion he is able to bring to this
role is perfect. One scene in particular has Arjun trying to comfort an older
guest, a really beautiful moment. He is easily one of the best actors under 30 working
today, and will no doubt be an Oscar winner in the future.
Armie Hammer is almost
equally as good as American tourist David, with his desperation to get to his
baby son Nathan particularly telling. He leaves the tough man act at home too,
which is great, his acting chops are on display and he does not disappoint
anywhere. Nazanin plays Zahra, David’s wife and the mother of their son. She is
amazing in the role, managing to display the desperation she has to get to her
son and husband amidst the tragedy, once he leaves her side to find the boy. Cobham-Hervey
plays Sally, an Australian nanny who is charged with looking after baby Nathan
in their hotel room while David and Zahra are downstairs at dinner. Tilda
shines in this role, and I would expect that it will bring her further success
in the film industry. Her ability to show fear and courage at the same time was
beautiful to watch.
Jason Isaacs is also
great as a Russian, ex-military man. While there are no heroics for his
experienced character his relaxed persona releases a bit of tension for the
audience. While Anupam Kher does not have a large role, it is a mightily
important one. I thought his role as Hemant Oberoi, the head chef of the Taj
Hotel really deserves a mention, not just because of a great performance but
because of the actions the man (in the film and real life) takes to ensure the
safety of the guests. The real Chef Oberoi attended the films premiere at the
Toronto International Film Festival to which he received a standing ovation once
pointed out by director Anthony Maras.
The film not only follows
the lives of the hostages, but it also gives an appropriate amount of screen
time and attention to the terrorists. While all four actors are great in their
roles, the unusual amount of humanization that is given to them is pivotal.
They share jokes, tears and worries together. While none of what they have done
is acceptable, understanding why they are doing it gives the film a real sense
of honesty and almost appreciation for what desperation can make someone do.
Whether it be a heroic action, or a far more sinister one.
The film’s screen writers
(John Collee and Anthony Maras) went to extreme lengths researching the attack
– from reviewing all news footage and reading not only court transcripts but
transcripts between phone calls made between the terrorists and their boss. One
scene in particular, in which a woman is praying in the face of death is
absolutely mesmerizing, but also completely true. The script is damn near
perfect. Maras, also directs the film with such tension that I literally could
not take my eyes off the screen but also at times, could not bear to watch.
Maras made me feel for and care for the characters, I wanted them all to
survive. To see such a random group of characters care and support each other
really is a beautiful thing and Maras gets the actors to portray there courage
and resilience perfectly.
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