Connect with us

Movie Reviews

The Royal Hotel ★★★



Director: Kitty Green

Cast: Julia Garner, Jessica Henwick, Hugo Weaving

Released: 3rd November 2023

Kitty Green has gone from strength to strength in recent years, initially as a documentarian but proving her chops as a feature-film director with The Assistant starring Julia Garner. The pair reunite for Green’s sophomore feature, The Royal Hotel, set at the titular location in the outback. It is focused on a pair of backpackers looking for work while travelling who find themselves at a remote, rundown hotel/bar in the middle of nowhere with most of its regulars one form of distasteful man or another. Alongside Garner is Glass Onion and Game of Thrones’ Jessica Henwick, given a meatier role her talents have been crying out for.

Garner’s Hanna and Henwick’s Liv have left some personal baggage behind in the US. However, it is never entirely clear what exactly, leaving the audience to piece things together. However, it is clear that the hotel and its inhospitable location are not the safest, with frequent sexist remarks and uncomfortable behaviour from the locals. Owner Billy (Hugo Weaving) is not the most helpful individual, behind on paying staff wages and seemingly allowing disruptive behaviour.

Green builds a sense of discomfort throughout the film’s 91-minute runtime, especially in a taut first half that captures the desolate nature of the landscape and the lack of alternatives. The girls have differing ways of coping with their situation. Hanna is desperate to leave and willing to put up a fight, while Liv turns to drink as a form of escape. This adds conflict between them and an extra hurdle for them to overcome.

In its final act, unfortunately, there are some sudden resolutions to threads, and despite a promising first hour, it never entirely comes together as it could have. It is a shame, and perhaps a slightly longer run time would have allowed more breathing room to explore some of the characters and their interactions and not quite such an abrupt ending that doesn’t derail it entirely but certainly weakens an up-and-coming first two acts.

The Royal Hotel, for the most part, is a gripping, tense Thriller that shines when exploring the dynamics of its two flawed characters and their response to their predicament. It goes off the rails, searching for a conclusion that isn’t quite befitting of its earlier points. The cast keeps it on track and further proves Green’s quality as a feature-film maker. Garner and Hewick are fine leads, making up for some flaws later on with the foreboding outback setting used wonderfully.

Just For You