Crikey! These girls are in dangerous territory.
I haven’t watched a trailer for “The Royal Hotel,” as it is trick I’ve picked up from my late grandfather. The key is to see it for the first time. You know. See what the trailers haven’t told you. It’s about acknowledging the direction the film is heading into.
As I begin watching the movie, I see two young travelers named Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick) posing as Canadians in Australia. That way they can try to get respect. They have some fun with some drinking and partying, and all the handsome guys they could ever want to mingle with. Unfortunately, for them, they have cash problems, starting with their credit cards, and their only recourse is to work at a bar in the outback.
What does it unfold for them? I read in a small note on IMDB, that they have to deal with “with a bunch of unruly locals and a situation that grows rapidly out of their control.” And the genre labels “Thriller,” so I can tell I’m in for something interesting. But it’s more than interesting. It’s gripping and well-acted in the following notions.
The bar the girl must work at is known as “The Royal Hotel,” and is run by the drunken Billy (Hugo Weaving). His behavior, alcoholism, and irresponsibility even becomes overbearing for his partner Carol (Ursula Yovich). “Your dad would be ashamed of what you’ve done to the place,” she says. And I wouldn’t blame her for calling it quits.
Earlier in the film, Billy drops the “C” word at both Hanna and Liv, which has them both conflicted. Hanna is insulted, while Liv tries to convince her it’s a custom in this country. But we all know the “C” word is the “C” word. My apologies, ladies.
And he’s not the only one to drop it. A patron named Dolly (Daniel Henshall) calls Hanna and an elderly couple celebrating their wedding anniversary that, while throwing coins on the ground. He says he’s “being F-ing nice!,” but he’s being F-ing drunk. In fact, he’s scarring Hanna, while Liv thinks he’s lonely.
In summation, Hanna is scared of these sexist and potentially violent men, but Liv is stupid to give them the BOTD.
In her first film since “The Assistant” (which also starred Garner), writer/director Kitty Green expresses the stress and fears of young women in dangerous territories. These drinkers become as violent as Hanna fears, and she has to worry for her friend, too. Liv tells Hanna she is strong, but she responds she is weak.
I wouldn’t want to be in their situation. Actually, I kind of was. A decade ago, my family and I were staying with some former friends at a motel on Block Island. The father in that tribe was so drunk and angry, he went crazy. Making noise in the hallways, frightening my family, and even having the manager writing a note to his guests that behavior like this is unacceptable. I try to avoid as much bad crowds as I can, and I suggest you do the same.
Back to my review of “The Royal Hotel.” Garner and Henwick both deliver the goods in the notions of one of them actually being right about their pathos and the main drunks, including Weaving and Henshall, are unlikable, but wisely acted. Even if everyone doesn’t get the same amount of development, you’re still wondering where all this is heading into.
Enjoy the weather, mate. And it’s Winter.
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA strike.