Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair) stars in this comedy-drama as a recovering control freak who finds support and a new lease on life when she enters group therapy.


Contemporary World Cinema


Lisa Langseth

Erika (A Royal Affair's Alicia Vikander) isn't just ready for the arrival of her first baby — she's over-prepared. She even knows exactly when and how it will enter the world, having scheduled the delivery by Caesarean section. But when she wakes up one night in extreme pain, doctors must induce labour, and from there Erika's carefully planned life unravels, sparking a near-catatonic depression. Reluctantly, she begins attending group therapy. Listless and silent for most of these sessions, she perks up when a chance remark reminds her of a news item about a woman who saw herself as a hotel, a place where you could change rooms, and therefore perspectives and personalities, whenever you wanted. Suddenly open to new possibilities, Erika bands together with her fellow patients and begins charting what may be a new course.

Strongly balanced in terms of tone, execution and performance, Lisa Langseth's Hotell is packed with sudden twists, often with startlingly comic results. At the same time, the movie never presents events through rose-coloured glasses; the problems and traumas faced by Erika and her new-found friends are addressed directly, in all their painful glory. There's Rikard (David Dencik, from Call Girl and All That Matters is Past, both at Festival 2012), terrified of his mother and weirdly infatuated with Mayan culture; twentysomething Ann Sophie (Mira Eklund), terrified of everything; and sex-obsessed, middle-aged Pernilla (Anna Bjelkerud), who hates her lonely life so much that she bursts into tears at the slightest provocation.

Ruminating on our epoch's forlorn obsessions with perfection and control, and its disregard for personal responsibility, Hotell is a compassionately funny and affecting drama, beautifully acted, and written and directed with consummate skill by one of European cinema's most intriguing young talents.



Fri Sep 06

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Fri Sep 06

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