VIFF 2023: “The Royal Hotel”; A Feminist Tale Of Harrowing Proportions | ForReel

The Royal Hotel

So Liv and Hanna are left to fend for themselves among these horrible men. Three stand out: Matty (Toby Wallace, Finestkind), the fun one who wants to be friends but also wants to get Hanna into bed. Teeth (James Frecheville), the slow one who thinks he’s being chivalrous by sitting at the bar and waiting for Liv to look his way, and Dolly (Daniel Henshall), who transitions from inappropriately intense to psychopath as soon as the previous women leave. Each is good, and although they are each a different type of man, they all capture that undercurrent of anger and potential for violence. 

Henwick’s Liv has a murky past she’s running away from, though the film never shows it. Green and co-writer Oscar Redding recognize that while it’s essential for her character to be running, what she’s running from doesn’t matter because that context makes her ongoing choices in the movie relatable. Liv is, to put it mildly, a bad friend. Her credit card maxing out lands them in their predicament, and she is constantly excusing the leery behaviour around her and minimizing her friends’ feelings about what’s going on. Ultimately, the film belongs to Garner, whose Hanna is smart enough to know that they are in danger but loyal and strong enough to understand that if she doesn’t stick around, her friend will likely be exploited, brutalized, or worse. It’s a performance that requires her to be all these things simultaneously, and she pulls it off masterfully. 


This piece/episode was produced during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labour of the actors currently on strike, the films being discussed here wouldn’t exist.