Bad Times at the El Royale

Bad Times at the El Royale ★★★★

Ok, so the marketing person for this film should be fired.

From a cannon.

This film is so much more than the generic, shallow, hyper stylized fluff it is marketed as. The assumption that were aching for some cheap Tarantino knock off is quite insulting. If we'd wanted that, we'd put on Tarantino's latest.

Anyways. Goddard's film is a superbly acted, cleverly constructed yet poorly paced mood piece that has allegorical doom oozing out of its pores.

The cast is really great. They all twist and turn with the excellent balancing act between dark humour and seriousness the script conjures up. Bridges gives a surprisingly layered performance and Hemsworth once again proves his range, but the true star of this film is Erivo. When she appears you just have to watch, she commands every single scene she's in. She's that good.

This is clearly a labour of love from Goddard. That's probably the reason he wasn't able to shave off about 30 minutes, something that would have greatly benefited the narrative. What he lacks in pacing he makes up for with some outstanding character work.

The El Royale is filled with a host of characters we shouldn't be rooting for but we do nonetheless. That has everything to do with how they are written, but also with where Goddard places them. The El Royale is Limbo. Literally existing on a line between two states, it is, as are the characters that reside in it, neither here nor there. Good and evil become fluid concepts and everyone there is looking for a way out. Whether they be a criminal priest, a struggling singer or a killer on the run, they all want out and that makes it such compelling viewing.

Don't approach this the way it was marketed. Approach it as a moody, atmospheric crime story and you'll love it as much as I did.

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