Hotel Monterey

Hotel Monterey ★★★

Forms a nice companion piece to Akerman's short of the same year La Chambre in that both foreground the space surrounding their human subjects and feature rhythmically patterned camera movement. While La Chambre sees the camera slowly revolving around the room of a girl in a bed who we see for increasing intervals as the film develops, here the camera slowly tracks in to briefly look out windows before retreating back down the hallway. But even this small bit of movement feels a bit liberating after having been stuck in Akerman's stationary, claustrophobic compositions that give only glimpses through cracked elevator doors and through open doorways down a long hallway into the lives of the other guests of the hotel. Both films capture a real sense of isolation and stagnation, but Akerman's interest in the hotel as a transitional space that can't replicate real domesticity gives this an added melancholy (see the unforgettable image of the pregnant woman sitting alone in her room as viewed down yet another long hallway). Encounters with others in elevators or through silent dialogue with Akerman behind the camera don't do much to quell the sense of aching loneliness that even looking out the window onto the drab concrete streets can't quite fix. The star here though is Akerman's meticulously composed compositions that use the natural vertical lines of the architecture to divide and compartmentalize the frame. Few filmmakers are as gifted at expressionistically turning mundane interiors into emotional landscapes.