Hotel Mumbai, the first film of the festival, depicts the brutal terrorist attacks that took place across central Mumbai in 2008, focusing primarily on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel attacks.
Dialogue is certainly what stands out in the film; it’s brilliantly crafted, with authenticity and occasional wit throughout. Where the film is let down, however, is with the vast amount of narratives covered. With limited time to explore each guest’s story, the result is a dilution of character development. The terrorists and their stories are presented as much more complex, which draws attention away from the stories of some of the guests and their fate, such as the central couple played by Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi.
Jason Isaacs stands out in his portrayal of a bitter ex-soldier, while Oscar winner Dev Patel gives a solid performance as one of the hotel’s staff. What is highlighted powerfully in the film is the heroism of the staff at the hotel, and the duty they felt towards protecting not only the building but their guests.
The director Anthony Maras proved his grasp on creating tension, with impeccably choreographed and timed scenes throughout. Additionally, composer Hauschka, who also worked on the Oscar-nominated Lion, beautifully scored the film. Not only did the soundtrack contextualise the film in India, but also masterfully complimented the mood of the scenes.
Hotel Mumbai is a film plentiful in suspense and subsequent relief, but when compared to a film like Captain Phillips the lack of character development is starkly revealed.
The 5th Manchester Film Festival is taking place at the ODEON Great Northern from 2nd March to 10th March 2019.