Hotel Chevalier (Anderson, 2007)

In Hotel Chevalier, Wes Anderson manages to uncomfortably stuff 12 minutes of screen time with his standard operating procedures – artifice and irony. Needless to say, after four films obsessed with this relentlessly quirky style, it’s gotten quite tiresome. Anderson arguably peaked with his masterpiece The Royal Tenenbaums and has been playing copycat ever since. This short film, which supposedly is the first part to his upcoming The Darjeeling Limited, represents a perfect example of Anderson’s patented slow motion tracking shots and pop music parallels to character development. Except here, as with the previous Life Aquatic, Anderson doesn’t inject any humanity into his writing or performances. As coldly played by Jason Schartzman and a naked Natalie Portman (something good I guess), the protagonist couple give clues to their love and breakup, but in a way so stylized and vague it resembles more a Noir than Anderson lite. The artificiality of his set design and directing places a stranglehold on the story, and in Hotel Chevalier, the Anderson aesthetic snuffs it out in style. It makes one long for Max Fischer and The Tenenbaums and wonder where this wunderkind went so wrong.

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