Hotel des Ameriques (1981)

Catherine Deneuve is always worth watching, and she’s certainly the best thing in Andre Techine’s 1981 film Hotel des Ameriques.

Helene (Catherine Deneuve) is a stressed-out anesthesiologist when she (literally) runs into Gilles Tisserand (Patrick Dewaere) one evening. Exhausted, but still driving, she almost flattens Gilles, and then guilty and lonely, she strikes up a relationship.

Gilles is the loser son of a local hotelier, and he lives in the hotel, occupying a room while his sister and mother run the place. He does very little except hang out with his social reject friend, Bernard (Etienne Chicot). Meeting Helene, who’s emotionally fragile following the death of her architect fiancé, should prove to be the lucky break that Gilles has been waiting for, but instead, he flounders in this relationship just as he flounders in life.

While the acting is excellent, somehow the film misses being anything other than mildly interesting. Perhaps the most difficult leap for me was trying to understand why Helene was with Gilles in the first place–let alone why on earth she put up with all his crap. As in other Techine films, the characters are emotionally disconnected, but in this film, somehow this emtoional detachment transfers to the viewer too. While I was mildly interested in the plot, there wasn’t too much here to get excited about. And the film didn’t seem to adequately address exactly why Helene is with Gilles or why Gilles begins to turn on Helene.

This film was recently released on a Catherine Deneuve set, and also on a Techine set. I’ve seen some Techine films I’ve loved, and others that were mediocre. Add this one to the latter stack, but as a Deneuve fan, I had to see it. The film is set in Biarritz, by the way, so there’s some gorgeous scenery, but for the most part I waited for something that didn’t happen, and the film fizzled out at its ending.

In French with subtitles.


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Filed under Catherine Deneuve, France

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