We will now take a break from our regular programming. Rather than assessing one of Wes Anderson’s feature length motion pictures, I’ll be talking about one of his short films, Hotel Chevalier. Originally intended to be a stand-alone piece, it actually serves as a prologue to The Darjeeling Limited, which I assessed in my previous blog entry. Hotel Chevalier revolves around Jack Whitman (Jason Schwartzman) as he reunites with his ex-lover (Natalie Portman) in a Parisian hotel.
Clocking in at just 13 minutes in length, you’d be surprised at how many of Anderson’s signature style elements make it into the picture, to the point where anyone familiar with his previous work would know that this is unmistakeably a short film of his making. The colour scheme is rather simple, composed almost entirely out of yellows with just a touch of blue here and there. There are enough knick-knacks and trinkets scattered about the hotel room to give it that quirky charm when it comes to scene composition, and the camera moves about the enclosed space in its usual swift transitions and the odd close up.
As far as story goes, there is not much to be said. The former lovers’ reunion is short and poignant, and there is little revealed about the nature of their relationship. However, if you thought one of their exchanges seemed familiar, you’re probably correct. The moment just before they’re about to have sex and Jack starts to doubt his lover is referenced word for word in The Darjeeling Limited, when Jack shows his brothers his most recent short story. You can see the parallel for yourself in the image below.
Their interaction dances on the thin line between suspicion and fidelity, honesty and deceit, love and contempt. We’re not allowed enough information to understand what happened between them or why Jack has been living in recluse, but we’re allowed enough to understand that this was not your regular romance.