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Grief? Depression? Ambiguity in a Paris hotel room. Jack Whitman lies on a bed, ordering a grilled cheese sandwich from room service. His phone rings; it's a woman on her way to see him, a surprise. He readies the room, moving without affect, drawing a bath, changing his clothes. She arrives, as does the food, and the complications of their relationship emerge in bits and pieces. He invites her out on the balcony to see his view. Will they make love? Is the relationship over? Written by
Has value however you see it but it is a strange beast that could have been better if it had gone one direction or other
At the end of The Darjeeling Limited, Jack has written the end of a short story and it is essentially the majority of the short film Hotel Chevalier. Francis reads it and comments that it is hard to judge without knowing the rest of it and indeed this may have been a reference to the fact that you need to watch this short film in immediate combination with the film. Others have asked why this part of the story was broken up from the film when it is clearly part of the story but my feelings on that are to simply shrug and ask when Wes Anderson ever did anything that was straightforward? So a separate short film it is and to appreciate it you do need to know "the rest of it".
Looking back on it from more of a knowledgeable position in regards the character is to introduce a level of understanding and emotional interest that is lacking the first time you watch it. Dealing with the film as a short film in its own right, this is clearly a failing because it cannot (or does not) deliver this on its own but does need the feature to do it. Even with the film it is more a matter of back-story than really informing the events of the short ie the short fits into the film rather than the short suddenly holding a lot of meaning to the viewer. So in terms of content, while it is "better" watched with the film, it still doesn't deserve to be a separate entity.
I suppose the one thing in its defence would be that, as an upmarket trailer, it will really work for Anderson's fans. The short has a great air to it and all the style and tone that exist within his films. The restrained and yet brooding emotion of his two characters are well painted in the dialogue but, more importantly, Schwartzman and Portman nail it the former in particular showing as much pain as desire in his actions and language. The colours and the shots all make the film look great and Anderson makes great use of the limited space within the hotel and for fans it will be a matter of lapping this up. But for me I have the same reservations as I have had with one or two of his features in the way that the style and manner may interest me but there is nothing of substance to really engage with or feel for.
Hotel Chevalier is a strange beast then; it can be viewed in several ways but it is not that great in any of them. As a part of the Darjeeling Limited feature it is a solid couple of scenes but not more or less remarkable than the rest of the film. As a stand alone film it offers style and typically Anderson manner but very little in the way of real meat. While as a high-brow trailer it does have the style and content to excite fans but then also feels a bit "big" just to be used to sell a product. Regardless it does have good stuff in the style, the performances, the simmering emotion and the overall delivery but it badly needed to either be part of the film or expanded and strengthened to be able to stand alone as a short film that "connects" to the feature rather than being "connected" to it (if you appreciate the difference).
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