The El Royale is a waning hotel situated along the state lines of Nevada and California and serves as the backdrop to Drew Goddard’s neo-noir thriller. Seven strangers come together one fateful night at the hotel, ranging from a priest (Jeff Bridges) to a travelling vacuum salesman (Jon Hamm) and through Goddard’s use of interweaving vignettes for each of the central characters, it soon becomes apparent that everyone is hiding something.
Film noir seems to have been a large source of inspiration for Goddard and so whilst the plot moves forward there are times where the audience is left with more questions than answers. This seems intentional, as though these minor open ends are there to add to the overarching sense of deception throughout the film.
However, despite the long run time of 144 minutes, the film arguably struggles with pacing issues as it draws to a close with the final scenes seeming rushed – which seems odd with the careful structuring of the film up until this point.
The film captures the essence of 1970 and boasts a decent soundtrack that heightens the overall feel of the film. With just one central locale for the plot of the film, it isn’t hard to see parallels to Tarantino’s work. Such as: Reservoir Dogs and more recently The Hateful Eight – particularly the latter with the varied ensemble of characters and letting the audience see what the characters themselves cannot.
The film doesn’t lull at any point and whilst the end doesn’t seem to be in-keeping with the rest of the film, the cast and plot hold your attention, offering memorable performances from all involved. Goddard seems to deconstruct and reshape classic cinematic genres in order to reach this final result. It’s entertaining, visually impressive and successfully captures a by-gone era through the set, costuming and soundtrack.
Image Credit: Movie DB