Thursday, 8 January 2009

Hotel Chevalier

The short that precedes Wes Anderson's, The Darjeeling Limited. It sets up Schwartzman's character for the main feature, and goes some way to explaining his liaison with Amara Karan's Rita later in that film.

Jack Whitman (Jason Schwartzman) sits alone in a Parisian hotel and receives an unexpected visit from his ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman). It lasts thirteen minutes.

The sheer opulence of the visuals is intoxicating, soundtrack (Where Do You Go To, My Lovely) beautifully used, the scarcity of dialogue gives each phrase such dramatic weight, and the treatment of Portman is almost fetishistic. She is playing a similar character to that of Gwyneth Paltrow's in The Royal Tenenbaums, but alludes to even more complexity.

The tragedy of such a powerful short, is that The Darjeeling Limited pales in comparison, as can often be the case, consider some of the Pixar films that are outshone by their exceptional preludes. We learn far more about Whitman in these few minutes than in the rest of the film, where Anderson flounders amongst crude metaphors.

There is much unspoken, and more hinted at, and what dialogue exists, is spoken with power and economy. Portman says, "Are you running away from me?", and with immediate brevity, the response is, "I thought I already did."

I would love to buy this film alone, and leave the good intentioned, but didactic, main feature on the shelf.

1 comment:

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