Hotel Monterey

Hotel Monterey ★★★

Like patiently waiting to find the soul, not of a person, but of a place. The stories these walls could tell are surely lost already to time, lives briefly glimpsed in other rooms, but maybe there’s a common, unifying feeling instead that lingers on; in the way the brief congregation of elderly residents in the lobby wordlessly dissolves, each left alone as they wander back to their private rooms, or how the walls dully gleam with a sickly yellow under the corridors’ dim lighting, or in the cramped elevator’s incessant, impersonal coming and going. The way the outside world is first glimpsed only as a spooky, otherworldly collection of lights in the nighttime, and even when the city’s finally glimpsed in daylight, it turns out to be dominated by just as much of a lifeless brown as the hotel’s cloistered interiors. A pan up to the empty sky like a brief moment spent pondering the idea of freedom, though Akerman, as if inevitably, sends her camera back down to the ground; the hotel ultimately not much of an oasis but rather a symptom of this terrestrial pattern of drifting and resting and, eventually, disappearing.

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