Review: ‘Hotel Swooni’

"Hotel Swooni" is the upscale Brussels venue where the lives of half a dozen troubled, yearning characters intersect for 24 hours during a summer heat wave in an overly familiar, formulaic drama so contrived, it's practically impossible to suspend disbelief and be moved by their plights. Following a local arthouse release, Belgian helmer Kaat Beels' feature debut will segue into home-viewing formats.

“Hotel Swooni” is the upscale Brussels venue where the lives of half a dozen troubled, yearning characters intersect for 24 hours during a summer heat wave in an overly familiar, formulaic drama so contrived, it’s practically impossible to suspend disbelief and be moved by their plights. Following a local arthouse release, Belgian helmer Kaat Beels’ feature debut will segue into home-viewing formats.

Adulterous wife Anna (Sara De Roo) arrives for her sister’s wedding along with sex-starved policeman hubby Hendrik (Geert Van Rampelberg) and teen son Jens (Enrique De Roeck), whose repeated refrain of “boring” viewers will certainly sympathize with. Violette (Viviane De Muynck), the long-estranged, cancer-stricken mother of hotel maid Vicky (Natali Broods), checks in, determined to reconcile with her daughter. Meanwhile, Vicky, who longs for a child, decides to shelter young Joyeux (Vigny Tchakouani), an illegal immigrant from the Ivory Coast who is searching for his long-suffering father (Issaka Sawadogo). Although the narrative is full of ludicrous loose ends, the tone uneven and the thesping overdone, the solid widescreen lensing makes visceral the shimmering heat beating down on the hotel rooftop and the cool half-light of the rooms.

Hotel Swooni

Belgium

Production

A Kinepolis release of an Eyeworks Film & TV Drama production in co-production with EEN with support from the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, Bruxellimages, Belgian Tax Shelter for Film Investment, Just Bridge Entertainment, Kinepolis Film Distribution. (International sales: Delphis Films, Montreal.) Produced by Peter Bouckaert. Co-producers, Jean-Philippe de Tender, Elly Vervloet. Directed by Kaat Beels. Screenplay, Annelies Verbeke, Michel Sabbe, Beels.

Crew

Camera (color, DV, widescreen), Frank van den Eeden; editor, Philippe Ravoet; music, Wim de Wilde; production designer, Hubert Pouille; costume designer, Catherine Marchand. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 12, 2011. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Sara De Roo, Geert Van Rampelberg, Natali Broods, Viviane De Muynck, Vigny Tchakouani, Issaka Sawadogo, Wim Danckaert, Stijn Van Opstal, Maaike Neuville, Enrique De Roeck, Tibo Vandenborre. (Dutch, French dialogue)

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