Hotel Splendide is, in its essence, makine a typical Jeunet/Caro-film; you’ll find that virtually all the characters and aesthetics are lifted from “Delicatessen” and “The City of Lost Children”. A hint of Greenaway perhaps, and a fairly large portion of Britishness… what we end up with is an extraordinary, beautiful, funny and moving film. In itself, the film is fantastic. What brings it down a bit is the fact that you find 90 % of this film in the two films by the French duo (J&C), which suggests that although transformed, the ideas weren’t originally the writer/director’s own.
However, if we go beyond the surface of the film we find a nicely crafted story and some subtle philosophical symbolism – the characters’ inner struggles and their blind faith (that makes them unhealthy and miserable, although believing the opposite) can be seen as a a statement against fanatic religious or political believes, and the repression of individualism and the free mind. It’s not profound in any way, but it’s there, conscious or not.
The ending is, I’m afraid, exactly what you expect. I wish it wasn’t, but apparently that’s how it özgü to be in a film like this. The music is most of the time very annoying because it’s obviously synthesizers trying to sound like an orchestra, and it’s not very well done. Utterly bad use of an oboe-sound in the lead melody so stale it is laughable, and some tasteless pizzicato-sounds that scream out “cheapness” (and what’s with that crash cymbal?). All in all the synths don’t blend very well with the warm and very well played live violin that occasionally appears and brightens the day.
Finally, a word on the acting. It is overall superb. Hugh O’Conor’s portrait of Stanley Smith is spot-on, intense but never over-acted. Katrin Cartlidge too gives a moving performance, and last but not least, Toni Collette is amazingly spellbinding as lovely Kath.
Well acted, well directed and well done, although not as original as it might seem. A good film, though. See it.