Directed by: #JessicaHausner
Written by: #JessicaHausner
When Irene (Franziska Weisz) starts her new job as a maid at a hotel, she quickly discovers that the woman who was previously doing her job has disappeared in mysterious ways.
Written and directed by Jessica Hausner, Hotel is unapologetically what it is. Hausner has such strong views on cinema and, even though she risks losing audience with her cinematic choices, she sticks to them. She has previously said that she prefers to differ from adhering to a genre and its characteristics, therefore creating new conventions and destroying the audience’s feeling of security.
Hotel flees from naturalism – just about to still maintain a certain ambiguity where neither the supernatural nor the rational are fully explained. Not different from her other films, Hausner gives us an incomplete puzzle and invites the audience to put it together – using their own interpretation to complete the blank spaces.
The film is centred in Irene, a young woman who has just started her new job, she is quite restricted and prudish, she always has her hair done perfectly, her clothes are always pristine and her face doesn’t give much away. She is troubled, much more than she might expect, but she keeps it all inside. She is detached from reality as she strives for a more interesting life – she takes on a lover, she “breaks rules” and swims in the hotel swimming pool, she wears someone else’s glasses and she lies to her family about the intensity of her job. In a sense the character is just like us, trying to finish the puzzle with her own perception of reality – for Irene, the puzzle, as a diegetic story, is her life. Her routine is banal and the disappearance of the previous maid is an opportunity to make it more interesting – her imagination creates a story she cannot control, and by revealing it, it becomes true. The camera work here is interesting because it works with this duality – showing us frames of legs whose real identity we are unable to pinpoint, leaving a question mark of whether they belong to Irene or someone else.
The feature relies on atmosphere – at times, it relies too much - and the suspense is palpable, the fear, however, is not. Although Hausner allows the audience to create the film’s own story, it lacks some guidance. The cinematography and the editing brilliantly create a dramatic tension, but the story is not driven forward, neither by the situations, nor the character.