After a blow-up at a house party over a drunken bad decision, brothers Luke and Travis (Andrew Rotilio and Charlie Hamilton) drive home in a huff and are struck by a pick-up truck. Travis receives minor injuries, but The Hotel Dieu follows a blinded Luke as he endures a strenuous recovery and discovers romance while staying at the hospital.
The Hotel Dieu is an honest, if slight, movie about regret, recovery, and forgiveness. Director Adrian Thiessen shoots high with his feature film debut by making a movie about indirectly addressing elephants in the room – an ambitious move considering he’s depending on his actors’ body language to tell the story – and achieves success when he’s focused on his characters. Rotilio and Hamilton create a convincing brotherly relationship, which helps immensely when they’re sharing memories on the eve of the party. Hamilton, however, shines when he’s struggling with guilt in front of Rotilio.
Also, for a film that takes place within the confines of a an otherwise unappetizing and drab setting, The Hotel Dieu manages to redirect our attention to the charisma on screen. Aside from the leading actors, Jessica Siegner provides comfort in the role of Luke’s love interest Jade, and Bob Douglas grows more and more likeable as Luke’s blunt therapist Dr. Lawrence. Douglas’ strongest moments happen later than one would expect, but Dr. Lawrence’s revealed tenderness serves as a nice surprise to a role that seems like it’s included out of obligation.
The story occasionally slips out from underneath the filmmaker’s focus to make room for an unconventional narrative with heavy imagery and reverse foreshadowing, but it’s never enough of a distraction to drastically impact the flick’s flow. Adrian Thiessen is obviously trying to find his voice in a sea of indie filmmakers; his career is off to a good start with The Hotel Dieu. I just hope he realizes authenticity is in the writing, not in the dreamy visuals.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie