HO­TEL ARTEMIS

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - JONATHAN PILE

Our ver­dict on the lux­ury hos­pi­tal­slash-board­ing house: good ameni­ties, but the dé­cor needs a do-over.

DI­REC­TOR Drew Pearce

CAST Jodie Fos­ter, Ster­ling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Jeff Gold­blum, Brian Tyree Henry, Char­lie Day, Zachary Quinto

PLOT Af­ter a bank job goes wrong, two broth­ers hole up in a mem­bers-only hos­pi­tal for crim­i­nals. But while they’re safe from the ri­ot­ing on the streets be­low, their fel­low pa­tients could well turn out to be even more dan­ger­ous. THE FU­TURE MAY not be writ­ten, but Drew Pearce’s di­rec­to­rial de­but pre­dicts dire con­se­quences for con­tin­u­ing down our cur­rent path. Set a decade from now, the post-trump Amer­ica of Ho­tel Artemis is not a happy place. The wall is up, and drought has re­turned to Cal­i­for­nia, lead­ing to a fu­ture where clean wa­ter sup­plies are pri­va­tised. The rich have it, the poor do not — and so be­gin the worse ri­ots LA has ever wit­nessed.

Far above the vi­o­lence on the streets is the Ho­tel Artemis — a once grand palace of golden age Hol­ly­wood hospi­tal­ity, now a mem­bers-only hos­pi­tal for crim­i­nals run by ‘The Nurse’ (Fos­ter) and her or­derly/heavy Ever­est (Bautista). Tonight’s guests: bank-rob­bing broth­ers Waikiki (Brown) and Honolulu (Henry), as­sas­sin Nice (Boutella) and arms dealer Aca­pulco (Day).

The film’s great­est strength is its set­ting. The pent­house floor the hos­pi­tal oc­cu­pies is rich with the at­mos­phere of the ho­tel’s faded glory — blood-stained cush­ions bear its Art Deco logo, while now-grimy mu­rals de­pict 1920s hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions that evoke a dystopian fu­ture where peo­ple yearn for bet­ter days long past. And it’s in this heady ‘locked room’ sce­nario its guests are forced to ex­ist and in­ter­act, safe from the ri­ot­ing down be­low (but per­haps not each

other). All have se­crets and hid­den agen­das, not all of which are com­pat­i­ble. It’s with these ex­changes in this con­fined space that Ho­tel Artemis is at its most com­pelling — un­easy truces keep the peace, but it’s not one that’s likely to last.

And, of course, it doesn’t. In­jured and in­bound is the ho­tel’s owner — crime lord the Wolf King of LA (Gold­blum). Out­wardly charm­ing

(of course — how could Jeff Gold­blum be any­thing but?), he’s not a man to be tan­gled with, which makes life dif­fi­cult for the broth­ers, who swiped $17 mil­lion-worth of di­a­monds from him ear­lier in the day. (The pun­ish­ment for steal­ing from him? Death. No ex­cep­tions.) It’s his im­pend­ing ar­rival that fu­els much of the ten­sion — not least be­cause his son and var­i­ous cronies are an­grily camped out­side the se­cu­rity door to “re­serve” the fi­nal hos­pi­tal room, negat­ing the ‘first come, first treated’ rule. And while it’s not a film that’s heavy on ac­tion, it’s pro­fi­ciently re­alised when it comes.

And then there’s Jodie Fos­ter. An all-too-rare screen pres­ence, she gives a per­for­mance to trea­sure — tough on the sur­face, but con­vey­ing an un­shake­able sad­ness as The Nurse con­tin­ues to mourn her long-dead son. Tied to the ho­tel by her ago­ra­pho­bia, she ex­ists solely amidst the ho­tel’s de­cay­ing in­te­rior as she longs for the hap­pier days of her past. The beat­ing heart of the film, Fos­ter pro­vides depth and pathos, and is a vi­tal counterpoint to the noisy crim­i­nal­ity that ex­ists around her.

There are prob­lems: when prop­erly scru­ti­nised, not all the points of con­flict hold up (how would the Wolf King ac­tu­ally know the broth­ers had his di­a­monds?) and some char­ac­ters don’t quite get the pay-offs they de­serve. But it’s still a thrilling, orig­i­nal film, ooz­ing with style, that de­served far bet­ter than its dis­mal show­ing at the US box of­fice.

Above: The de­bate about Juras­sic Park vs The Lost World had got heated. Right: Where had his miss­ing con­tact lens gone?

VER­DICT Stylishly re­alised against a back­drop of vi­o­lence and faded Hol­ly­wood glam­our, Drew Pearce’s vi­sion of the near-fu­ture is laced with in­trigue and dark hu­mour.

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