Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Ola Fløttum

QuickView: Lost Girls & Love Hotels (2020)

“I came to Japan to be alone. Sometimes being alone isn’t about other people.”


There is a certain type of film that only makes sense to watch late at night, like this psychological drama set in the seedier side of Tokyo’s nightlife and love hotels, following a Canadian woman on a downward spiral. Alexandra Daddario’s performance as Margaret is superb, often wordlessly communicating her gradually unravelling state through expressive eyes and body language. Unfortunately everything around her feels like a poorly sketched caricature from her relationship with a gangster to the bizarre ending that feels like a Westerner’s fetishised wish fulfilment. Catherine Hanrahan adapted the screenplay from her own debut novel so she is familiar with the material but perhaps the psychological aspects were better suited to prose — the film contains only passing references to Margaret’s ruminations on her past and fears about her sanity. It may also have been easier to empathise with a fundamentally irresponsible and self-involved character in that medium. My impression is that Lost Girls & Love Hotels wants to be a grittier, sexier Lost in Translation, and yet William Olsson’s direction seems unwilling to commit to its darker themes — many of its sex scenes are surprisingly coy and its characters frequently sound insipid (“Everything goes away, I know. Nothing lasts. I get it.”). Most of my criticisms made more sense upon discovering that the film was shelved and recut between 2017 and its eventual release in 2020, apparently excising a significant quantity of bleaker and more explicit footage in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. This evidently neutered the tone and, whilst it is unclear whether the original cut would have resolved all the film’s issues, I would be fascinated to see it. The strength of Daddario’s performance alone makes Lost Girls & Love Hotels watchable but this shallow and underwhelming experience is worthy of a short rest rather than an overnight stay.


QuickView: The Worst Person in the World (2021)

“Everything we feel, we have to put into words. Sometimes, I just want to feel things.”


The Worst Person in the World is overtly a character study of Julie — a forceful but flighty woman — through a series of vignettes over four years in her twenties, but Joachim Trier uses this structure to explore a broad range of subjects from age differences and the decision to have children to illness and mortality. Renate Reinsve excels, imbuing a role that could easily have felt like a tired manic pixie dream girl trope with conflicting desires and introspective depth. Certain chapters are more memorable than others, such as Julie and Eivind exploring the boundaries of intimicy without infidelity at a party, but all feel well-observed, particularly in depicting the quieter moments of relationships. Trier is playful with the cinematic form, switching deftly from romance to comedy to drama, sometimes heightening reality and occasionally abandoning it altogether, like a fantasy sequence in which time stops whilst Julie explores the world to make a decision about her relationship. The titular theme is perception of self and how subjective reality can be used to justify or excuse behaviour — Aksel explains that he wants Julie to see herself as he does, seemingly as he believes it will allow her to become a better person. Its Norwegian sensibilities should not be a barrier as The Worst Person in the World is both entertaining and thought-provoking.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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