Hotel Monterey

Hotel Monterey ★★★★½

Film #12 in March Around the World 2016

Chantal Akerman's first feature-length film is one of the most mystifying films I have ever seen. Filmed entirely within a hotel in New York, it turns the mundane setting of a lower-end hotel into a space as beautiful and rhythmic as any other in the annals of cinema. Teetering delicately between tangible darkness and slimy light within the hotel's hallways and elevators, Hotel Monterey explores the complexities of a modern space, with even canvases as simple as a wall or a door turning into mysteries. Every shot contains multitudes, the camera's stillness or slow movements examining it almost as if it were haunted: we are either waiting for something to happen, or we are waiting to make sure nothing will. Momentary interruptions from this stillness, like when a tenant opens the door to look right back at us, situate this space in reality, making its strange appearance and atmosphere all the more beguiling. Even in a modern world where everything is streamlined and manufactured, Hotel Monterey claims, there is still mystery to be found. Even where man's control is absolute, there are forces that exist beyond our control.

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