Plot: The El Royale is a run-down motel literally straddling the state line between Nevada and California. Most of the time, it’s empty now, with a single night clerk, Miles (Lewis Pullman) enough to handle all the guests. But on this particular night, there are more guests than usual – and they are all here for their own unstated purposes: Father Daniel (Jeff Bridges) is looking for something. Darlene (Cynthia Erivo) wants to make her career as a singer. Laramie (Jon Hamm) is a vaccuum salesman on the road. Emily (Dakota Johnson) is running from something. As the guests bring their own story to the motel, things get more and more complicated.
Bad Times at the El Royale obviously tries to be a film in the vein of Tarantino’s best, but while a lot of the right ingredients are there for that, the film doesn’t really come together and starts to fall apart more and more the longer it lasts.
Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) hasn’t spoken to his family in years. But now that he is terminally ill, he wants to see them and let them know that he is dying, and soon. So he leaves his boyfriend in the big city and makes his way home to his mother Martine (Nathalie Baye), his older brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) and his wife Catherine (Marion Cotillard) – who Louis never met before – and finally his little sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux) who barely remembers him at all. But the reconciliation Louis is most likely hoping for is overshadowed by old resentments.
Juste la fin du monde is probably the weakest of the Dolan films I’ve seen so far (which is not all that many, unfortunately). It’s still above average, but I’ve come to expect more of Dolan than what the film gave me.
Tom (Xavier Dolan) goes to the countryside to go to his recently deceased partner’s funeral – only that his family doesn’t know that he and Tom had been an item, or that he was gay at all. When Tom arrives at the farm, the mother Agathe (Lise Roy) is overjoyed that at least one of her son’s big city friends made it to the funeral, but her other son Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) is antagonistic and aggressive. He makes it quite clear to Tom that he better do everything to keep Agathe in the dark and very happy. Soon Tom finds himself completely in Francis’ thrall.
Tom à la ferme is a drama, maybe a psychological thriller, and it’s so incredibly tense and scary that I’m unsure whether I would survive watching an actual horror film by Dolan. But it is so good that I would definitely try to watch it.
Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) and his girlfriend Fred (Suzanne Clément) are pretty happy with each other. But only until Laurence announces that he’s actually a woman and that she finally wants to make the transition. Fred is shocked and doesn’t know how to cope but she decides to try. But things aren’t easy for either of them and so their relationship develops in twists and turns.
Laurence Anyways is a visually striking film with great characters that is unfortunately an hour too long. But it’s still very much worth watching. I enjoyed the most parts.