Bad Times At The El Royale

This film is truly a work of art. It’s episodic journey through voyeurism, the past, murder, and showbusiness are captivating to a point that the 2h 22m runtime don’t quite seem to be enough. I found myself begging to know what the end was but simultaneously wishing it wouldn’t end. Every piece of dialogue was poetically pronounced and every light on the screen beguiled the actors.

Stylistically a beautiful film. I found myself wanted to know exact shades of colors on the screen. Each room at the El Royale was so intricate and foreboding that they camouflaged a lot of the characters’ motivations. In Jon Hamm’s room, the honeymoon suite, we are initially deceived by what would be a rouge lovefest playing as a metaphor for purity. In Darlene Sweet’s room there is nothing notable upon first glance but as the film progresses, we see a mirage of colors and lights being reflected off each other to create a beautiful symphony of difference but at the same time cohesion. Her room is soft with pinks, but tough with army green as well. Just like her. The colors of this film played so incredibly well into both depicting mood and developing characters.

The episodes this film is divided into rang a little 11:14 with me at first, in which I wasn’t quite sure where everyone was fitting together but the storylines eventually did converge. Where it’s predecessor dropped the ball was the backstory, and El Royale picked it up in stride. The episodic supporting characters added such viscosity to the story that they are worth mentioning by name – and no, unfortunately that wasn’t Nina Dobrev you see in the skeet shooting scene. We get Nick Offerman in a mask – a fucking mask – Shea Whigham as a doctor, and Jim O’Heir as a third rate casino MC. There is a Vietnam war flashback, a spot-on prediction in a sound booth, a cults’ beginnings, a stint in a penitentiary, and a girl wearing boots on a beach. Together these stories create the tempo for what would be a slow barreling train crash.

In terms of characters, worth mentioning also is the characterization of the jukebox, the priesthood, and the snake-charming abs of Chris Hemsworth. Darlene Sweet is a performer and a singer, but her true talent lies in her ear for music and her ability to relate to the jukebox and be in-tune but not distracted by her cohort. The jukebox plays as a supporting character to her main by giving her both a way into and a way out of a conversation. Jeff Bridges Father Daniel Flynn to Miles Miller’s quest for penance plays perfectly into a story that cannot be forgiven. A cataclysmic failure so great and so destined for disaster, even God himself will turn a blind eye to the sins taken place at The El Royale. The priesthood plays two roles here, as a disguise for Jeff Bridges and as a disguise for what would be a truly godless situation. The collar brought God where God shouldn’t be and that is the true ruse.

I can honestly say I’ve never been hypnotized by a specific part of someone’s body to the degree that I was hypnotized by Chris Hemsworth’s abs. That’s reason enough to watch the film again.

This film is a puzzle that needn’t be solved, because it’s going to catch on fire anyway. 5/5, I want to watch it again today.


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