Lost Girls & Love Hotels
William Olsson's Lost Girls & Love Hotels captures the vibrant life of Tokyo with lush cinematography and a dense, yet distant performance from Alexandra Daddario. The film moves at the pace of a snail and winds up just as lost as the film's protagonist, struggling to make its point, despite showing technical skill on behalf of Olsson and his crew.
William Olsson‘s Lost Girls & Love Hotels is a bleak character study, focused on lost love, loneliness and the inability to care, drenched in the visual beauty of Japan and its apparent many love hotels. Alexandra Daddario gives a desolate and downright depressing performance that fits the films aesthetics, but fails pulling the story up from the dirt, leaving a film that just kind of gets lost in itself, unmotivated to move or change.
Margaret (Alexandra Daddario) is an American woman teaching English pronunciations to Japanese women that are preparing to be flight attendants. It’s a somewhat boring and mindless job, but that works for Margaret as she seems to care about nothing, not even herself.
She’s big on distance, leaving a giant gap between herself and any remaining family members, while also dropping actual relationships by the waist-side, aside from a few bar patrons that have grown to become the closest thing to friends that Margaret has ever had.
Margaret’s idea of fun is engaging in sexual activities with random strangers in seedy motels, using these acts of spontaneous interaction as fuel to keep herself alive. As soon as someone gives her a compliment, she cuts and bails, because living a life of being letdown or disappointed seems to be easier to digest than actually enjoying something or someone.
It’s a weird stance that makes Lost Girls & Love Hotels a very bizarre and depressing film. Director William Olsson captures the vibrant colors of Japan rather coherently, balancing out the sharp colors with bleak locations that almost always feel dirty or slimy.
Watching the camera move is probably the film’s biggest highlight. Lost Girls & Love Hotels is full of solid tracking shots and good close up camera work that really lets you live in the environment and let me tell you, this film is all about environment and atmosphere.
There’s not a whole lot going on anywhere else.
Catherine Hanrahan‘s script focuses mostly on Margaret’s random daily intakes of booze, sex and sadness, with a brief stop at hope when she starts seeing a man named Kazu (Takehiro Hira). This sparks a very brief feeling of normalcy as the two share their own burdens and baggage over casual dinner and whatever comes next.
These moments in the film light up as Daddario clearly has what it takes to carry the weight of such a hopeless role. Her character doesn’t really seem to have any redeemable traits that makes you want to invest in her story, which makes the whole film feel like a drunken blur. Her moments shared with Hira’s character give the film a sense of direction, at the very least.
But like all things in Margaret’s life — this aspect appears to be too good to be true, which pushes her down the drain even further as she loses her grip on reality even more.
Is Lost Girls & Love Hotels a film about being damaged, lonely and without life? Is it a reflection of distance or a study of just what a relationship really means? I don’t know after having watched the film and that makes this one extremely hard to recommend.
The initial trailer grabbed my attention because of the camera work and the visuals on display and I can say that director William Olsson knows how to shoot a film and shoot it well he does. But at what cost? There’s nothing else to discover in this film — not an engaging performance or a captivating romance or even just basic drama at its core.