Movie reviews by Andrea Karen Hammer
After watching three outstanding films with the ultra-talented Dev Patel, it’s mystifying how this actor previously remained under our radar.
Dim memories of rumblings about his first film, Slumdog Millionaire (2008), prompted us to add this movie to our watch list. However, we couldn’t get through the brutal opening scenes during his training for the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Although we needed to hit eject on this film, the following ones gripped our attention from beginning to end.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Entertaining Movie With Endearing Senior Travelers
An exuberant Patel is completely irresistible in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), featuring a collection of endearing yet quirky senior travelers. In his engaging role as Sonny Kapoor, the actor captures the spirit and dogged determination of a struggling entrepreneur who simply refuses to quit. Sustaining unwavering hope and humor while trying to operate his father’s run-down hotel, Patel exudes sincerity while putting the ultimate spin on furniture draped in sheets, rooms layered in dust and inoperable phones.
Without any available remedies, guests are left to find their own solutions. Some of the visitors are pushed to the brink while dealing with hotel food that upsets their stomachs and inescapable tangles in traffic. Penelope Wilton as Jean Ainslie succeeds in hitting over-the-top irritation levels, whereas Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie manages to win viewers’ support because of his interest in new experiences.
In consistently masterful performances, Maggie Smith as Muriel Donnelly and Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade once again deliver true-to-life characters. The crankiness and grace of their respective roles offer memorable but infrequent portrayals of older women in film. Along with a gifted ensemble including the moving performance by Tom Wilkinson as Graham Dashwood, their ability to balance comedy and drama makes The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel one worth watching several times.
Lion: Roaring Biographical Tale About a Fascinating Birth Family Search
Dev Patel takes a more serious turn in the biographical Lion, portraying the loving but tormented adoptee Saroo Brierley in search of his homeland. Nicole Kidman, in a disorienting casting choice as his highly emotional mother, supports her son’s frustrating quest when it is finally revealed.
On the suggestion of friends, Saroo begins an obsessive Google Earth search. During all hours of the day and night, he plots points across a map. Slowly, they begin to trigger landmarks in his memory, ultimately leading Saroo back to his homeland and birth family.
This fascinating research and scenes of the real-life reunion at the end of Lion are reasons alone to place this movie on your must-see list.
The Man Who Knew Infinity: True Story About a Genius at Cambridge
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016) is another film revealing Dev Patel’s extraordinary depth and range as an actor. As Srinvasa Ramanujan, the actor explores the experiences of this mathematic genius during his time at Cambridge.
Professor G.H. Hardy (the perfectly cast Jeremy Irons) pushes his “student” to prove his intuitively understood theories, resulting in role-reversal moments filled with profound lessons. Other intriguing scenes involve Patel’s passionate attempts to explain his remarkable gifts.
Deeply troubling moments include witnessing the widespread prejudice and rejection that Ramanujan experienced at one of the most renowned and “enlightened” academic institutions in the world. Before succumbing to a serious illness in The Man Who Knew Infinity, Ramanujan–through Patel’s skillful portrayal–embodies formidable persistence, strength and determination as a model for anyone confronting adversity.
Fans will be thrilled to learn that the award-winning actor will appear in The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019). The film is scheduled to premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on October 2, 2019.
Questions for Artsphoria’s Online Film Forum
Which of these films is your favorite one, and why? What other movies with Dev Patel would you recommend, and why? What do you admire about his work, and what qualities make him one of the leading actors of our time?
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