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
like a quick little short story, as Anderson puts it, the emotional subtleties make it work so well
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.
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