“The Royal Hotel,” an Australian production thriller drama film directed by Kitty Green, brings together a notable cast including Julia Garner, Jessica Henwick, Hugo Weaving, and Ursula Yovich. Green and Garner previously collaborated on the well-received film “The Assistant” (2019). Inspired by Pete Gleeson’s documentary “Hotel Coolgardie,” the film explores the achievements of its intense story set in the Australian desert.

The narrative follows Hanna (Garner) and Liv (Henwick), two American backpackers who find themselves in the Australian outback. Struggling with financial constraints, they reluctantly take on jobs at a bar situated in a remote desert near a mine. The film unveils their daily challenges serving drinks to miners in search of both entertainment and companionship.

From the premise, it’s evident that the plot evokes discomfort, offering a narrative that is intense and unsettling. Despite the absence of explicit scenes, the film portrays the extreme environment in which the two attractive female protagonists navigate. Threats loom not only from the desires of men but also from the wilderness and, more significantly, their own friendship. The film’s greatest strength lies in its exploration of the psychological toll on these young women under such pressure. The bar setting serves as a theatrical stage, presenting an unrelenting, palpable threat.

The cast, especially Julia Garner as Hanna and Jessica Henwick as Liv, delivers a stunning performance. Garner embodies fierceness and cold resilience, while Henwick portrays a calm yet fragile demeanor. Hugo Weaving, as the boss Billy, consistently drunk, and other male cast members like Matty (Toby Wallace), Teeth (James Frecheville), and the standout Dolly (Daniel Henshall), contribute to the film’s gripping atmosphere. Dolly’s psychopathic expressions elevate the tension and showcase his capacity to be a formidable threat.

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With its thrilling narrative and discomforting storyline, “The Royal Hotel” stands out for its strong casting, atmospheric setting, and contemporary message. The film prompts viewers to question why the protagonists would choose to work in such a challenging environment, serving as a metaphor for the younger generation seeking quick solutions to life problems through extreme challenges. The bar’s customers are portrayed as monsters and vampires, ready to strike at any moment. Whether Hanna and Liv learn a lesson from their wild experiences is left for the audience to discover. The filmmaker and the two main protagonists deserve high appreciation for their compelling work in bringing this intense story to life.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at montasefilm.com and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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