Bad Times at the El Royale (DVD)
With an impressive cast,
The El Royale Hotel was once a hot celebrity getaway, frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Its days of glory are over, however, as a series of strangers check in to an otherwise empty hotel. There's a priest (Bridges), a vacuum salesman (Hamm), a singer (Erivo), and a woman (Johnson) whose entry in the hotel ledger is less a name, and more of a four letter suggestion. After the stage is set, the guests head for their rooms at the El Royale.
The film changes pace at multiple points. After a leisurely introduction to the setting and the characters, it turns into a frantic cat and mouse scramble as the characters have their own vested interests in the El Royale as the true nature of the establishment reveals itself. The film cuts away from the ongoing drama at the hotel to tell backstories about the guests and what lead them all to the same place; these threads often overlapping partially while revealing new insight to events that you have seen from another guest's perspective. As the stories of the hotel guests merge, the arrival of the mysterious Billy Lee (Hemsworth) allows the film to veer again in a new direction, ratcheting up the tension in a claustrophobic stretch to a surprise-laden climax.
This incredibly engrossing and dramatic film pushes up against the absurd realities of the world we live in without leaving it and reflects back searing insight into the culture we live in, set against the Vietnam War era and is still relevant to the world we live in today.