Hotel Harabati (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/12/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Hotel Haribati is an enigmatic mystery drama with an intriguing plot and strong performances, though it's slightly let down by its pacing and its refusal to provide any answers.

What's it all about?
Laurent Lucas and Helene Fillieres star as French couple Philippe and Marion, who abandon a planned trip to Venice when they pick up a mysterious bag (labelled Hotel Haribati and filled with foreign currency) that was left behind by a kindly Middle Eastern man at the station. For some unknown reason, the couple tell all their friends that they went to Venice anyway, but Marion receives a shock when she gets her roll of film developed and it comes back full of pictures of canals, piazzas and gondolas.

As the lie spreads further out of control and strange things keep happening, Philippe and Marion start to grow apart, which isn't helped by Philippe's increasing paranoia about terrorist activities. Phillippe moves in with a young Muslim man he meets at the swimming pool whilst Marion decides to take their children and leave Paris, but both are eventually compelled to find Hotel Haribati.

The Good
Lucas seems to make a habit of appearing in films like this (see also: Lemming, Calvaire) and his continually perplexed face is perfectly suited to the material. Fillieres is equally good, combining vulnerability and the suggestion that she might be just a little bit nuts, while Anouk Aimee provides glamorous support as Philippe's mother.

Writer-director Brice Cauvin orchestrates some impressive scenes, many of which are quietly devastating, such as when Philippe watches a dubbed movie and starts crying when he hears Marion's voice.

The Bad
Hotel Haribati is the perfect example of a What the hell is going on? movie, taking mysteries and devices that are familiar from other movies and using them for unexpected ends. Unfortunately, much like TV's Lost, the film is quite happy to throw up lots of questions without providing any answers, which is ultimately extremely frustrating.

Worth seeing?
This is an impressively acted and occasionally moving drama with an intriguing mystery, providing you're not expecting any answers. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 20/07/2018 09:54

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