You can’t say Mike Figgis isn’t adventurous. If “Timecode,” his foray into multi-screen storytelling, had us on our toes, then “Hotel,” the writer-director’s follow-up keeps us firmly on them. This time, he has reshuffled his technique; the four-frame look of “Timecode” comprises only one of “Hotel’s” delirious grab-bag of tricks as Figgis fiddles frequently with the size, shape and texture of his images.
Figgis sets his movie in a phantasmagoric Venetian hotel where a menagerie of greedy, kinky, and downright neurotic guests gather to shoot a lusty, lurid adaptation of “The Duchess of Malfi.” Their wound-up, ego-tripping director, Trent (Rhys Ifans), quickly alienates his actors and is almost killed by an assassin dispatched by Jonathon (David Schwimmer), his murderously jealous producer. With Trent in a coma, Jonathan takes over directing duties and works his wiles on Trent’s girlfriend (Saffron Burrows). On top of that, the hotel’s spooky staff likes to abduct guests for their own diabolically gastronomic and sexually fetishistic purposes. Figgis paints a gallery of characters, by turns amusing and excruciating. If Salma Hayak as a documentary-shooting diva is borderline embarrassing, others like Schwimmer, Burrows and Ifans come off more expertly. Likewise, Figgis’ multi-pronged visual style can seem arbitrary one moment and inspired, even hypnotic, the next. Still, it’s through its anarchic, try-anything chutzpah that this bizarrely erotic satire succeeds and entertains.
Directed by: Mike Figgis
Written by: Heathcote Williams
Cast: Max Beesley, Saffron Burrows, Valentina Cervi, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, John Malkovich, Burt Reynolds