Hotel Monterey

Hotel Monterey ★★★½

This is the kind of technically ambitious art-film that is potentially a huge risk for the filmmaker⁠—luckily Chantal Akerman's avant-garde sensibilities fulfill this ambition entirely.

A rundown, nondescript hotel in Manhattan is somehow shown to be a place of profound mystery and peace, but also one of loneliness and alienation. The long, entirely silent takes of empty corridors and rooms with only occasional human subjects draws our attention to the abstract geometry and shapes of this interior space⁠—we start to notice patterns, hypnotic rhythms of light or movement, even fluctuations in the film texture itself. Each shot looks like it belongs in a modern art gallery, where some are incredibly striking in their design, colour and choice of framing. Later Akerman introduces movement to the fray, namely some unsettling corridor tracking shots that eerily anticipate Kubrick's in The Shining.

There's something strangely appealing and relaxing about Hotel Monterey, it captures a particular time and place through its voyeuristic images but also creates a real feeling of immersion and a space for reflection, a world to to be totally alone in for one full hour.

Criterion Channel.

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