The Million Dollar Hotel

The Million Dollar Hotel

*

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The million dollar question is why? One glance at the script should have been a warning. How can the story of a mentally defective kleptomaniac, a bookish nympho, a crippled FBI agent and a suicidal millionaire's son add up to anything but trouble?

Wim Wenders films this dysfunctional love story in a tricksy cinematic manner, adding another layer of pretension to the already overloaded dumpster. "The line between art and garbage is thin," Julian Sands proclaims at one point. Will someone please tell the director.

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The plot is rooted in cliché. There's this big old hotel at the cheap end of town, filled with crazies and misfits and lost souls, which may appear to be the last place on earth, but is haunted with bittersweet memory. Tom-Tom (Jeremy Davies) dotes on Eloise (Milla Jovovich). "She was the love of my life," his narrative voice-over mumbles, "although we had not yet met." Being four cans short of a six pack, he tends to ramble. Eloise has aimless thoughts and no direction, handing out sex when required and saying stuff like, "I am fictional."

Tom-Tom's best friend, Izzy (Tim Roth) is the son of a Hollywood big shot, although he rejects all that, preferring to make tar paintings and call himself a genius. One day, after an unsatisfactory session with Eloise, he falls off the roof and dies. Was he pushed? Do you care?

Daddy insists it's murder and, for some inexplicable reason, FBI agent J D Skinner (Mel Gibson wishes it wasn't him), who wears an elaborate neck brace and stands funny, due to being malformed as a child, is sent along to investigate.

Tom-tom is too daft to remember what happened, even though he was there. Skinner wants to wrap up the case before the weekend so that he can go to the South of France. One problem: he feels a pang of sympathy for "this freak show", because he used to be called a freak at school and knows how much it hurts.

Bono conceived the screenplay (a selection of his ballads decorate the soundtrack). He should stick with U2. Davies acts his heart out and does such a great job, you don't want to be around Tom-tom As for Gibson, he flashes a touch of the Lethal Weapons every now and again and gives a star performance, which means walking through the role with a twinkle in his eye.

Jovovich is better than in Joan Of Arc, which isn't saying much. Izzy warns Tom-tom about Eloise. "No-one can hurt her. She's not even there." Type casting? In the end, the film has less value than its video packaging.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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The Million Dollar Hotel packshot
After a billionaire's son dies, the FBI investigate the eccentric residents of a skid row hotel.
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Director: Wim Wenders

Writer: Nicholas Klein

Starring: Jeremy Davies, Milla Jovovich, Mel Gibson, Jimmy Smits, Peter Stormare, Julian Sands, Amanda Plummer, Bud Cort, Gloria Stewart, Tom Bower, Conrad Roberts, Donal Logue

Year: 2000

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Germany, UK , US

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BIFF 2015

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