In New York's storied Chelsea Hotel, a novelist, a dancer, a painter, a poet, an aged jazz singer, and a young troubadour sort out their personal and artistic lives within walls haunted by the likes of Dylan Thomas, O. Henry, and Sarah Bernhardt. A boozy novelist balances wife, mistress, and stories. A dancer who's a waitress in the basement club chooses between a Hollywood jerk and a local painter. A youth from Minnesota who composes and sings may be the next Bob Dylan. A poet decides to give her feckless boyfriend another chance, even as her eyes tell us she knows what's ahead. An old jazz artist wants to place a bet and share his love for Lady Day. These walls do seem to talk.Written by
Chelsea Walls is no less than a moving masterpiece. From stage to screen, the integrity of this modern fairytale was not only preserved, but heightened by Hawke's abstract depiction of the hotel and its tenants. Captivating visuals and a kind of sensual stillness give the film a lulling quality, with a near-flawless cast and hypnotic monologue. The score, developed by none other than the incredible Jeff Tweedy, rounds things off to a smooth edge. I, myself, was highly impressed by the subtle references to the artists of the past. Some were apparent from the beginning (Bukowski, Ginsberg, Cassidy, Dylan), while others crept up from the corners of the story, embedding themselves in the minds of audience members everywhere. It's a film you've got to see beyond the picture. A film not fit for the short attention span. A film intended to pull you down into the depths of madness, toss you around at the violent hand of love, sing you to sleep and wake you back up in the morning. Yes, Hawke has done it again, and this time he's done it with jazz and cigarettes.
Key Moments: The Poem, The Speech, The Session, The Madman, The Drunk Best Performance: A surprisingly stunning delivery from Rosario Dawson
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