Critics Are All Saying The Same Thing After Watching Dev Patel’s Directorial Debut


Dev Patel has firmly established himself as one of the great British acting talents of his generation over the years.

From his first role in cult teen drama Skins, to his breakout performance in Slumdog Millionaire and ensuing leading turns in films like Lion and The Personal History of David Copperfield, the actor’s career has seen an impressive upward trajectory.

Now, Dev has stepped up to the director’s chair for his feature film debut Monkey Man, which premiered at SXSW film festival in Austin this week to a standing ovation.

Dev also stars in the film about a young man who “unleashes a campaign of vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimise the poor and powerless”, as per a synopsis.

Early reviews have praised Dev’s ambitious vision while highlighting his potential for the future.

Here’s a selection of the reviews so far…

“His visual style is an at times discombobulating mix of TV soap, gritty character drama and slick Hollywood action. Which makes for an at times bumpy, steamrolling ride, punctuated with some truly impressive visual flexes and a too-muchness that feels apt for a first-time film-maker – one who should get another opportunity, sooner rather than later. It isn’t and hasn’t been the smoothest ride, but as proof of concept for Patel’s action movie bona fides in front of and behind the camera, consider Monkey Man a success.”

“Monkey Man is a true mixed bag. The action is staggeringly impressive, both from a visual and storytelling standpoint, but the material in between runs the risk of deflating the experience via pacing problems and narrative confusion […] There’s no doubt Patel has got boundless potential and power as a director, and I look forward to seeing him harness that more and more as he rocks the industry with bold visions.”

“I have a feeling “Monkey Man” is going to be huge. And when he knows that he’s going to be able to make second, third, fourth, and beyond movies, he’ll hone that overstuffed storytelling and visual language in a way that could be legendary. “Monkey Man” may be an origin story for a future action franchise character, but it feels more to me like an origin story for a future action star and director.”

“Brilliant, brutal and a sign of beautiful things to come. Dev Patel is a talent to behold, and Monkey Man is as impressive a cinematic achievement as we are going to see this year.”

“To call it ambitious would be an understatement. Here’s a movie that wants to say every single thing Patel wants to communicate as a filmmaker, and it’s all got to fit into a two-hour running time. Forget oxygen. Forget subtlety. No one’s got time for that when this is your first (and maybe last) time at bat.”

“Despite a few scenes lacking crystal-clear execution, the majority successfully convey each punch, kick and stab with intensity. Patel’s commitment to his dual role as director and actor is palpable. He visibly pushes himself to the limit, embodying the physical toll of his character’s journey. This dedication suggests Patel has invested not just effort but his very essence into making this film resonate.”

“What Monkey Man says about Patel as an actor might be its most fascinating consequence. Ever since he broke out with the one-two punch of Skins and Slumdog Millionaire, he has worked to find his niche in Hollywood. Prototypically, he plays men stranded in arrested development by some tragic event in their childhood. Those origin stories have always served his doe-eyed boy-next-door charm well, yet have limited him from expressing a fuller range of complicated emotions […] Monkey Man is working from the same baseline, but with a new rugged twist.”

“Though Monkey Man is exasperating, Patel’s work shows heart, love, and promise—something that can’t be said about many other action films. Monkey Man finds novelty in its imperfections, and those blemishes suggest that Patel is only just starting down a road to something genuinely special.”


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