Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Written and Directed Drew Goddard

Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Lewis Pullman, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman.

In Tahoe, on the California/Nevada state line – The El Royale Hotel/motel stands. The state line itself runs through the hotel lobby run by a lone clerk (Pullman), once a hustling and bustling location, having rare visits now due to having lost the gambling license a year ago. Half the rooms are in the state of Nevada, the others are slightly more expensive in the state of California.

On a stormy night in 1969 four individuals check in. There is the ageing Priest Bridges, the vacuum salesman Hamm, the hippie Johnson, and the singer Erivo. Each with their own backstory, and each harbouring possibly deadly secrets.

A pretty fun mystery suspense has a neo-noir type feel to it from Director Goddad and Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. It is well directed, with some impressive long tracking shots – one in particular in the early part of the movie is incredibly well choreographed with a stunning vocal performance by Cynthia Erivo that will leave the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. It is no wonder she is an Oscar nominee (not for this film) for her music.

The character development is on point, with a very shocking main character early exit. It works really well up until the third act when new characters emerge, and the movie takes on a different path, and becomes a completely different genre.

This is ultimately its downfall, and takes too long to resolved. At 141m it is at least half an hour too long. While some people may have enjoyed this part of the film due to the actor who plays the character, I felt it was a complete tonal shift in film, and was disappointed with it.

I still did enjoy, and do recommend this film – but it is a bit of a struggle to get through – especially the last half hour or so.

The standout performers in this are Erivo, who has established herself as a powerhouse performer, and I hope to see more of her (and her stunning singing voice) in the future. Also, another shout-out goes to Pullman (who is the son of Bill), who plays a vital role in the film.



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