The Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Dark, bitter tale of two young women backpacking through Australia. They end up in an armpit of the Outback, surrounded by dirtbags and drunkards, in a miasma of alcohol. Director Kitty Green is a brilliant renderer of women put at risk by terrible men and here she adds the even more complex dimension of women who aren’t there for one another. Julia Garner is the ideal vessel for the director’s constructions: she’s all internal suffering and suppressed pain. This is a formidable follow-up to Green’s superb “The Assistant” and I will be there opening night for Green’s next one, but it blows a strong lead up with a weak ending.

After thinking about this a bit I think I got it wrong on the first take. It’s not a movie about toxic masculinity, though shitty men appear throughout. But they're more like features of the terrain, native wildlife. What this movie is really about is women who are terrible to other women. Jessica Henwick’s Liv is a train wreck of a traveling companion, and an egregiously unreliable best friend. She repeatedly dismisses the fears that Julia Garner’s Hanna quite plainly voices, over and over, and continually draws her closer and closer to danger. It’s a pretty fascinating angle on what otherwise might be a straightforward horror story, though it too is undermined by Green’s facile ending.

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