Hotel Artemis (2018) – Drew Pearce

Hotel Artemis is a film directed by Drew Pearce, set in a dystopian Los Angeles of 2028, in which the privatization of water has sparked riots and unrest in the city. This bleak surrounding permeates the gates of the twenty-two-year standing Hotel Artemis, where ‘The Nurse’ Jean Thomas (Jodie Foster), patches up and gives medical attention to member criminals. The place is built on “trust and rules”, such that on-site patients cannot kill each other, cannot insult the staff, are not allowed to have weapons and so forth. But as these rules are abandoned throughout the course of the film, chaos ensues. The real mystery is how the hotel has not, as far as we are told, plunged into this anarchy before. Hotel Artemis feels as though it is flickering on the border of being something great, but ultimately it falls short and there is a certain lack of gravitas to the piece. Nonetheless, the potential, the ambition and the brilliant cast, as well as the visuals, lead to an elusive quality to the film, as it balances certain undesirable aspects with positive ones.

The cinematography, by Chung-hoon Chung, feels stylish and having a majority of the film set in the location of the hotel adds to the charm of the place. The set design for the hotel is well-crafted and retro, and the production team effectively make the place feel dense and ominous, as the dark hues, as well as the fact little of the outside world is seen, make the place feel trapping and restrictive, which it literally is for Jodie Foster’s character, due to her agoraphobia. There are moments that break away from the dark aesthetic, as flashbacks show brighter scenes, and this distinction works effectively to communicate the current dismal setting.

Within the framework of the hotel there are a variety of different personalities at play, and Jodie Foster does well to perform a character that while being the essential backbone to the hotel, feels out of place in this sinister environment. She is vulnerable, and throughout the film the audience gains a sense of her trauma and her attempts to overcome her fears. Sterling K. Brown also stood out in the film – his character is given motivation and is more compelling than the others who get less screen time. Jeff Goldblum for instance does not appear till the latter half of the film and while his presence is felt, (as is the case with every film he is in), his character is simply not given the time to have more of an impact. However, this works for certain characters like Dave Bautista’s Everest, whose lack of background adds to his characterisation as the by-the-book assistant to ‘The Nurse’, that does not tap into his past before the Hotel Artemis, because he’s a professional.

Hotel Artemis adheres to clichés and common troupes, with cheesy lines, that while feeling very self-aware, are overdone and elicited scoffs from my audience. Added to this, the film abruptly undercuts growing tensions and thus feels unsatisfactory at times, as the audience are not given the spectacle they envisage. This is also true as certain threads lead nowhere.

Even after having mulled over the film for a while, I still find it hard to articulate my thoughts, as the film is an amalgamation of a variety of different genres, tones and characters that make it difficult to categorise, and thus challenging to rate. It is still an enjoyable watch with a multitude of different components. It’ll be interesting to re-watch this film and see if a second viewing will sway me.

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