Chicago International Film Festival 2011
Hotel Swooni Directed by: Kaat Beels Cast: Natali Broods, Enrique De Roeck, Sara de Roo Running Time: 1 hr 26 mins Rating: TBD Release Date: TBD
PLOT: The story of a strange course of events that unite people in a Belgian hotel over twenty-four hours.
WHO'S IT FOR? Do you like pleasing movies that are especially well-written? Want to see a probable winner for the "New Directors Competition"? See Swooni.
An entry in the New Directors Competition, Hotel Swooni is a beautiful film from Belgium that is bound to surprise any filmgoer who decides to take a chance on it.
Hotel Swooni works like this: a boy searches for his father in the posh Hotel Swooni, after being told that his uncle works there. A married couple checks in for one night to celebrate a friend’s wedding. A maid is upset when she finds out that her mother has taken up one of the fanciest suites of the hotel, and intends on spending all of her family’s money to pay for it.
The tight script of Hotel Swooni finds a way to interweave the strands of the characters’ lives, and not in a fashion that recalls the hacky Crash work by Paul Haggis. Swooni does what feels almost impossible, which is connect everyone’s unique storyline in a balanced manner that also enriches the characters, and doesn’t use their connections as some sort of twist.
Admittedly, Swooni does start off a bit rocky, looking more like a flashy American Express commercial than a movie that feels like it has emotional hope. Even the movie’s introduction to the characters, which comes in long mobile takes, had me feeling a bit skeptical about the film, which seemed bound for style over substance.
Thankfully, I was wrong. This new director, Kaat Beels, has more to prove than just a comprehensive visual style. Beels proves to be a pleasing creative force here.
Sooni has some good comedic moments, but its dramatic elements are going to be far more resonant, especially as they are poetically mirrored with other moments in the script. (To give an example would be to truly spoil Swooni’s surprise). Needless to say, the end of the film will make any impatience you might have had with it worth the trip.
In the credits, the film even leaves audiences with a beautiful song to remember for their own keepsake. Melody Gardot’s “Our Love Is Easy” is used twice in the film, and effectively so.
Hotel Swooni is an immediate must-see for this year’s film festival. It’s a surprising gift of great acting, good dialogue, good pacing, all of it wrapped tightly in a beautiful bow.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10