Imagine if Clue had been directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you’ve got El Royale. A movie packed with great characters in a great set, El Royale is the perfect 7-layer bean dip for your weekend. So grab some chips and dive right in.
This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on.
The El Royale is a hotel that sits right on the state line between Nevada and California, giving the hotel a dual nature: higher room rates on the California side, slot machines on the Nevada side. But duality seeps into every nook and cranny of this film. Every character has a dual nature, just like Jeff Bridges says in the trailer, “I’m not really a priest.” Then there’s the hotel itself, which is more than it seems, as there is a surveillance corridor running behind all the rooms where the hotel bellhop can watch whomever “Management” requires.
The cast includes 7 primary characters: Jeff Bridges as a “priest”, Father Flynn, in his first Flynn role since Tron Legacy; Cynthia Erivo as Darlene Sweet, a black songstress with golden pipes; Dakota Johnson as a feisty girl not fawning over Mr. Grey; Jon Hamm as a vacuum sales mad man; Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee, the beautiful hippie man; Lewis Pullman as a bellhop; and Cailee Spaeny as Rosie, a girl with real troubles. Each of these characters has a dual nature that unfolds in unexpected and terrible ways. The fun of the film comes from seeing each character interact with the others, like a series of chemical reactions, with each one more explosive than the last.
The real question I kept asking myself, though, was who is the devil here? Because all the characters have 2 sides, just like the hotel, you are kept guessing until the very end who is the real devil.
Some warnings: if the R rating wasn’t enough of a warning, there is a lot of language and a lot of violence. In addition, there are some very dark issues to deal with, such as child abuse, drug abuse, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and PTSD. But, like the man once said, to get the pearl, you have to dig through the mud. And although there is a lot of mud, the pearl at the end is really bright.
I loved this movie. I’d see it again.
4 out of 5 couch cushions!!!