Hotel Mumbai: Review
“Hotel Mumbai,” depicts an act of mass violence that actually took place at the world class Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. The movie is shot and is paced in documentary style. Terrorists attack the hotel guests and staff to express their anger and seek revenge. The strike on this hotel is not accidental. The hotel is a symbol of wealth and enjoyment. People are slaughtered because of a religious feud for which they are not responsible. Through the entire ordeal, the staff treats the hotel guests with great respect in a calm way so as to not raise the level of fear.
As I watched, my fear was quelled because the staff was so calm. While Mumbai’s citizens were peaceful and respected life, the terrorists quickly break the serenity. This lovely, dignified hotel is turned into a chamber of horrors. The staff carries on and strives to maintain a calm atmosphere. They comfort and protect their guests; taking responsibility for them. No one knows what terrible fate will come.
Arjun (Dev Patel) is our guide and leader through the chaos. As he tells an older white American woman who is frightened by his turban and dress, “I am no different from you.” He shows her a picture of his wife and children. He tells her we are all in this together. Survival is the goal but the odds are great. The hate and division in the world rain down in torrents on the guests and staff. The evil of our own planet strikes this with all its might.
This account is so frightening that I started to imagine the events happening in my home town. Terror strikes out of nowhere. It carries rage towards its goal, and when the strike is over what is left? Maybe something is done to take these attackers to justice on maybe not. They have to be identified and caught. If apprehended or not, the victims are left with pain not unlike war syndrome. The point of the movie is that if you survive, you can bring peace back to your life.
Spreading terror is a kind of guerrilla warfare. It’s a new way to fight a war. The strikers realize that they are not strong enough to compete with the mighty weapons of major countries. So their weapon is fear. Social media is a tool for them. They get free access around the world to billions of people. Dov Patel’s strength as an actor help keeps the fear at bay. He is the heart of the movie. He is a salve for the evil strike. He is a hero. His is a balm from Act I almost to the last scene. Patel’s performance is marvelous but nuanced. He magically projects his heart and goodwill and forms a family out of the hunted. His force for good is the real triumph of the movie. It is more powerful than the evil. If we could harness what Patel broadcasts, it would give hope that strife in our world could heal.