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Dev Patel’s directorial debut ‘Monkey Man’ leaves audiences stunned

Ella Wachtel
Dev Patel has acted in many different movies but has never written and produced a big film up until “Monkey Man” was released.

Dev Patel, known for his various acting roles in “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Green Knight,” recently ventured behind the camera and wrote and directed his own action film, “Monkey Man.”

“There were some incredible people that pushed me into this director’s seat, and once I was there, I didn’t look back,” explained Patel via The Hollywood Reporter.

Patel began his acting career in 2008 with the aforementioned “Slumdog Millionaire” directed by Danny Boyle. This was, needless to say, a monumental start to a career.

“Slumdog Millionaire” went on to be nominated for 10 Academy Awards, bringing home a total of eight of them, including the prestigious Best Picture. Considering Patel starred as the lead, such a monumental response to your first feature film could be considered daunting to many people

Patel didn”t let the critical response affect him much, as he would pick up a role in M. Night Shyamalan”s “The Last Airbender” adaptation two years later. “The Last Airbender” bombed with critics and audiences alike, but Patel continued to pick up films from huge directors, even after such a humongous bomb.

Fast-forward over two decades later, and Patel is considered to be one of the most established actors currently working and hasn’t struggled to find work whatsoever.

Now, Patel has shifted more focus towards writing and directing. After releasing two short films, “Home Shopper” and “Roborovski” in 2018 and 2020 respectively, Patel took things to the next level and wrote, starred, produced and directed his very own action film “Monkey Man,” which has been receiving impressive responses from audiences and critics.

“Monkey Man” was originally set to be released straight onto Netflix; however, Netflix dropped the film shortly before it was released, evidently because of the film’s stark political nature.

Patel and many of the film’s producers struggled to find a studio that would be willing to release the film after Netflix dropped out, that was until Jordan Peele and his production company, Monkey Paw Productions, stepped up.

Peele was given the opportunity to get an early screening of the film and picked it up for release shortly after. 

“From an acting standpoint alone this is an incredible feat,” explained Peele in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes. “But from a directing standpoint, I was just blown away.”

Peele reportedly watched the film three times in total and was more than impressed with what he saw. Peele and his studio decided to not only pick up “Monkey Man” for distribution, but to also give it a full theatrical release, something that seemed impossible just a few months prior.

“Monkey Man” released nationwide April 5. It is notable to mention that “Monkey Man” was banned from distribution in India, seemingly due to its critique of the Indian government.

“Monkey Man” boasts an impressive 89 percent on the review site Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed $32 million worldwide off a $10 million budget.

Patel has been continuously praised for his unique approach to filmmaking and directing and his impressive dedication to the film.

Despite a rocky production, “Monkey Man” has received love from general audiences. 

“I thought it was really good. It had a really unique action,” explained junior Dean Barbeau. “The story was very different from other movies in it’s genre, like ‘John Wick.’”

From being dropped by Netflix to banned from a full worldwide release, “Monkey Man” seemed to have the whole world against it. Despite this, Patel still delivered a unique and heartfelt film through all the struggle.

Don”t be surprised if you start to see Patel pop up more and more in Hollywood, this time from behind the camera.

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About the Contributors
Devan Langlois
Devan Langlois, Features Writer
Ella Wachtel
Ella Wachtel, Photographer
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