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This is a wonderful short film to introduce us to one of the main
characters in Wes Anderson's film The Darjeeling Limited. A broken
romance sends Jack (Jason Schwartzman) off to a Paris hotel to lick his
wounds it seems. In this short the ex-girlfriend has arrived and Jack
must come face to face with her and his pain. Pay very close attention
as you watch this as I think it will pay off. Personally I found this
to be a nice little gift from Anderson as we wait for the release of
The Darjeeling Limited. I don't really understand the question about it
appearing in theatres as part of the main film but I think it does a
nice job revealing the characters a bit. I enjoyed it and it certainly
is very much like Anderson's previous work.
I know that many fans of Wes Anderson tend to be very thrown by each new film he creates and they tend to have a favorite that they won't stray from. I have never really understood this because I think his body of work is really quite consistent and he seems to improve with each film. The key to all of his films, at least to me, is that you feel that you have stepped in to each one and lived with the characters because he takes such care revealing their quirks to you. I think what causes the discord among his fans is that they feel so close to certain characters they have trouble letting go of them. So, we end up with passionate arguments about why Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, or The Royal Tenenbaums were "better" than The Life Aquatic.
Really a beautiful short piece of enticement, with tone and sight and
sound and dialogue all letting you know that there's a story here,
while only hinting at the many things that story might be. And it
captures a particular feel that lets you in on the situation kind of
like a good short story in a book does.
The way the whole thing looks, and the way the action comes across, are pure Wes Anderson at his best. Deadpan. Melancholy. Hurtfully truthful-feeling.
You know they say there used to be shorts before all the movies when you saw 'em in the theatre. Now we get a string of commercials bigger, louder, and stupider than on TV. It would be so cool if more top notch film-makers like these made more stuff like this. Viva Short Film.
And Thank You Especially, Miss Portman, for getting behind in your work.
Your talent and beauty are in a neck and neck race for first place in many hearts like my own.
I'll be there for "Darjeeling Ltd" the day it opens.
Hotel Chevalier is the kind of thing Wes Anderson could've written in
his sleep- or for that matter written in his sleep while on the plane
from the US to France to shoot in two days and edit on his computer.
But in such a quick burst of minor creativity he has created a stark,
amusing and tragic little situation that makes clearer (if not totally
clear) the disconnect between Jack (Schwartzmann's character from
Darjeeling Limited) and the 'ex-girlfriend' (Portman, with her V for
Vendetta cut coming back in and her attitude like that of a pure
b***ch). At first Jack has no idea she's coming, by the long pauses
they have (albeit he asks why she pauses so long, when he paused
longer), and orders a grilled cheese sandwich. She arrives. She brushes
her teeth. She decides against going into a bath Jack's specially
prepared- as in Darjeeling we see the obsessive-control side to the
Whitman family via the IPOD machine playing the song- and instead they
go into a very 'French' kind of torturous love scene.
It's erotic in what isn't shown; one might expect this to finally be *the* one, for skin-flick fans anyway, where Portman goes nude. She does, by the way, but tastefully in the Anderson sense- we're not getting the wacky nudity of the girl from Life Aquatic who never has a shirt on, or the lesbian girlfriend of Paltrow in that one shot in Tenenbaums. By the end, it doesn't make any grand statement about love or love in a hotel room or Paris, but in a self-contained way Anderson's created a mini-masterwork of emotional frustration in the midst of crazy lust. And, by a stroke of something of a quasi-in-joke, like one of the 'brilliant' short stories that the character Jack writes that are 'fictional' though never really at the same time.
This was a beautiful little film that that plays out like one
Truffaut's Antoine Donielle films. Not only is it the perfect prequel
to (the wonderful) "The Darjeeling Limited", but it is a self-contained
simple and moving story.
This whole "New Wave" feeling is a departure from Wes Anderson's usually theatrical and highly-stylized film making. It suits him well. Don't get me wrong, Rushmore is one of my favorite films and the Royal Tannenbaums is fantastic, but I am really digging this new naturalistic style Anderson is applying to his new films and cannot wait to see what he does next.
Shwartzman is a wonderful actor who never ceases to entertain. and Natalie Portman gives honest and touching performance.
Designed as a semi-independent prelude to "The Darjeeling Limited", "Hotel Chevalier" proves that ten minutes of Wes Anderson's wizardry are worth more than many another big-budget director's feature-length film. It's a study in the pain and the lust only love can bring, as well as a variation of Anderson's trademark motif, control. Where "The Darjeeling Limited" bubbles over with substance abuse, poisonous snakes, restroom romps, brotherly affection and fatal accidents, "Hotel Chevalier" is a quiet and slightly eerie two-character mini drama set in a lavish Merchant-Ivory style suite. The suite's sole resident is a reclusive control-freak writer in a long-distance relationship (Jason Schwartzman). We watch as he half enjoys, half endures a surprise visit by his control-freak girlfriend (Natalie Portman). Is she a woman of flesh and blood, or is she just an imaginary incarnation of the jet-setting girl from "Where do you go to my lovely", the song Peter keeps playing on his portable stereo? There's no knowing what's real and what isn't in Anderson's paper moon world. But the importance of fact and fiction fades as she reclines on the bed and has Peter take off her spike-heeled boots. It's the most emotionally and sexually loaded scene I have seen in a long time, like a 20-second tango. It seems some of Natalie Portman's best work is done in shorts set in Paris. Remember Tom Tykwer's "True"?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hokay... if you've gone to the theatre to see Darjeeling Limited
lately, it is preceded by this short film prologue to the feature
presentation. Though shot before The Darjeeling Limited, apparently the
idea behind it is to create a better understanding of Natalie Portman's
character's relationship to Jason Schwartzman's character. This is
unnecessary. In fact, as short films go, this one does not make it high
on my list of favorites, just to be polite.
It does have its moments and it successfully stands alone. That's what's important. That's why this short gets as many stars as it has in my rating. In fact, for Anderson enthusiasts, this short film is most interesting because it shows his approach to style as it would be confined to a single hotel room. It also has a nude Natalie Portman, which is in fact something to consider.
However... whatever. The Darjeeling Limited itself doesn't need this, and this short is more curious than it is revelation-creating. I honestly don't understand why it's necessary or why Anderson didn't just go ahead and find a way to expand upon it a little in a non-Darjeeling way to make it a bit stronger by itself.
So, in conclusion, show up late to The Darjeeling Limited. You're not missing anything.
One of the things i've always liked about Wes Anderson is how well he
can subtly imply certain characteristics or histories in a dry sort of
humor. This film accomplishes that in a more pronounced scale than a
longer film might have.
Jason Schwartzman is great, perhaps the stronger of the two performances, although Natalie Portman is not to be dismissed here.
Without giving anything away, the film accomplishes its goal of setting a mood and not forcing itself to tell the entire history - something too many other directors might have tried in a 13 minute time span and thus sacrificed most if not all of the actual feeling behind the couple's reunion.
I rate this a ten out of ten - a great short, and even though i'm a big fan of Wes Anderson's, i'm glad he didn't over-stylize it. It's simplistic, humorous, and yet bitter-sweet and thoroughly enjoyable.
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
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).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are a lot of wannabe filmmakers and writers out there, and this
would seem to be made by one of them. Wes Anderson has made some
movies, some of which actually have characters and pacing, but is
somehow reverted to wannabe status. He created a situation straight out
of a loser's fantasy, the sort someone wallowing in self-pity over a
breakup might come up with. The anguished, devastated hero (with
nothing in him to attract anyone) gets to be morose and unforgiving and
his (ex) girlfriend still comes more or less begging like no ex ever
has or will. Sure, people get back together, or see each other, but the
whole interaction was as false and fantasy driven as a GI Joe cartoon.
The girlfriend was essentially a prop, not a character with
recognizable motivation. Nobody behaves like the people in this movie.
Writing like this comes when you don't know who your characters are,
but you know what you want them to do. Ugh. And they all say exactly
what they mean, totally on-the-nose writing, like nobody ever talks. No
subtext, perfect self-knowledge, such character as is revealed is done
through dialogue. "Show, don't tell"
Anderson should try making a silent movie.
And of course, nobody has any material worries. Watching "Hannah and Her Sisters" long ago, it struck me that nobody had any place they had to be, no bills to pay, every Manhattan apt. was a palace. This strikes that same false note without any real characters or desires, which HaHS did. I'm glad it was a short, and I'll skip Part II.
Modern filmmakers seem to scorn the smaller canvas of the short film,
which is a shame because beautiful things can be drawn in small, vivid
detail. Some films simply don't warrant a feature, as The Darjeeling
Hotel Chevalier is a prelude to that film, and it largely works because Anderson lays bare feelings that remain inscrutable, allows to blossom a sense of history and time past between the two lovers. In their small, intimate moments in a hotel room, I get the sense of a time that extends back and forward, that these people loved, were hurt or excited, elsewhere, in some other time, and this snapshot is all that remains.
This is memory, a sense of place and time. The flow of life suspended for a brief moment, where lives entire can fit.
Watching this also reminds me how much Anderson's original style, a subject of much celebration among his fans, is in fact Aki Kaurismaki.
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