Hotel (2001)

Review

I like Mike Figgis a lot… as a person, I mean. Frankly, I haven’t been able to make any sense of his movies since Leaving Las Vegas, and Hotel is probably his least accessible work ever.

The story — as it exists — concerns a troupe of British actors who descend on Venice to shoot a film version of the play The Duchess of Malfi. We follow the production with Figgis’s all-seeing camera (courtesy of a documentarian following the production) — which has a tendency to dip into slow-motion, cut the sound out, and shoot using an ultraviolet filter in the dark — and bear witness to all manner of strange goings-on, the description of which I can’t even begin to fathom putting on paper.

There’s a murder (sort of), cannibalism, a hooker (or two, I couldn’t tell), and plenty of stuff that’s even stranger. I couldn’t make any sense of it, and judging from its general reception, neither can anyone else.

What’s more baffling is that Figgis, who I thought was languishing in obscurity now, managed to recruit a pile of celebs, ranging from Salma Hayek and Lucy Liu to David Schwimmer and John Malkovich, to appear in the film. Hell, even Burt Reynolds is in the movie. Why are they here? Are you trying to tell me that Salma Hayek actually understood this script and I did not?

Ay, dios mio!