Directed by William Olsson and written by Canadian author Catherine Hanrahan (adapting from her semi-autobiographical novel of the same name), Lost Girls and Love Hotels follows Margaret (Songbird’s Alexandra Daddario), an American with a steady job in Tokyo who fills in her loneliness with alcohol, one-night-stands, and kinky sex. One evening, she crosses paths and has a sincere connection with a stoic gentleman named Kazu (Takehiro Hira). Kazu doesn’t feel as enamoured as she does at first sight, but her company defuses his defence. Despite their individual baggage and the overall indisputable conflict that stands between them, Margaret can’t stop pursuing Kazu.
It’s tough to watch Lost Girls and Love Hotels, and not because of its depressing story of solitude and desperation, its sad and inevitable reputation as a skin flick, or its cinematography. Actually, the latter is the film’s strongest attribute – capturing the nightlife of Tokyo in an intoxicating and unforgettable manner. Viewers can easily comprehend the emotions and motivations behind the decisions carried out in the film, but we don’t believe the characters because everyone is underwritten. When characters (namely Margaret) explain their backstory, the dialogue often rings obligatory and hollow; begrudgingly written in a way that comes across as movie producers hounding the author of the source material to expand more and more.
The mediocre filmmaking isn’t a detriment to the decent performances (especially Hira and Daddario who are trying their best with poor material), but the meandering storytelling by Olsson and Hanrahan makes the moviegoing experience frustrating for the audience who, like Margaret, are vying and striving for any sort of connection.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie