The Niagara Motel and the attached Riverside Grill, located in Niagara Falls, are owned and operated by Serbian father and daughter, the always angry Boris and hard working Sophie. Through ... See full summary »
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Kieron J. Walsh
The Niagara Motel and the attached Riverside Grill, located in Niagara Falls, are owned and operated by Serbian father and daughter, the always angry Boris and hard working Sophie. Through the motel and/or restaurant comes a series of disparate but equally struggling people: middle aged couple Henry and Lil, formerly middle class but who are trying to cope with the loss of employment and its associated money; young couple R.J. and Denise, who are trying to clean up (with varying degrees of success) so that they can reclaim their daughter from foster care; and the restaurant's new waitress, young widowed French-Canadian Lori, who is escaping a complicated situation in her hometown and who is preyed upon by two locals, straight-laced Dave and less than straight-laced Michael. The person who sees everything that is going on is the motel's caretaker Phillie, a Scot who stayed in Niagara Falls following a personal tragedy. To escape memory of that tragedy, Phillie is in a constant state of... Written by
Less shabby-chic, more chic-hole, the eponymous motel is home to an assortment of losers drawn to Niagara for anything but the view.
Permanently drunk hotel manager Phillie (Craig Ferguson. Annoying.) uses whiskey to hide the pain of losing his wife. Recovering addict Denise (Anna Friel in a very impressively layered performance) wants her baby back. A middle-aged couple argue a bit. Groundbreaking, I'm sure.
Well-worn as the story may be, it is rescued by some delightful performances. Friel is a revelation, but it's Canadian beauty Dhavernas who really shines as a naïve waitress on the verge of becoming a low-budget 'adult star'.
Never quite as 'darkly comic' or 'genuinely tragic' as it thinks it is, Niagara Motel is the film Todd Solondz would make had he been more popular at school.
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