videocam Hotel de Love (1997)

reviewed by Richard Luck

Published in Issue No. 9 ~ October, 1997

The feature film debut of writer-director Craig Rosenberg, Hotel de Love is a quirky tale of romance in the nineties. The story centers around three romantically challenged and passionately confused people involved in a series of insurmountable love triangles.

The film begins 10 years ago with twin brothers Rick and Stephen at a summer party. While Rick is mingling, Stephen is overcome with a strange sensation he can only describe as being in love. Turning, he spots the vivacious Melissa. But while he’s romancing her in his mind, telling himself that he finally understands the fervor behind love at first sight, his brother slips in and grabs the girl away.

Flash to the present, where Stephen is now a lonely, but successful stockbroker. He still thinks about Melissa, about how she’s the only girl he’s ever been in love with. Meanwhile, Rick has become the cynical manager of a kitschy, fantasy theme, honeymoon hotel called the Hotel de Love. His current girlfriend, Allison, is a palm-reader with her sights set on Barcelona, Spain. But Rick is not a part of the dream. He’s troubled by his own failures, both at work, and with the fact that he lost the only woman he could ever love 10 years before.
To make matters worse, his family is in town for the weekend. His parents are planning to renew their wedding vows, in hopes of saving their crumbling marriage. While Mum is receiving anonymous notes from a secret admirer, Dad is convinced that death is just around the corner, and spends the majority of his time lamenting about his own imminent demise. “This is the last banana,” he bemoans. “I’ll miss bananas.”

When fate brings Melissa and her current boyfriend to the Hotel de Love on the same weekend, Rick and Stephen are forced to confront their past and their present unfulfilling lives. Stephen’s convinced he’s still in love with the beautiful Melissa and comically follows her around town, Alison in tow, when he learns that she is planning on marrying her boyfriend at the Hotel. Rick, having never forgiven himself for letting go of Melissa, also confronts her with his declaration of love: a stack of unmailed love poems he had written her 10 years ago – poems he had never mailed because he thought she would find them immature and ugly.

Conveniently, everything works out in the end. And, perhaps, that is the single flaw in the entire movie. For having spent the greater part of their on-screen time tripping over one outburst of `I-love-you’ after another, Stephen and Rick seemed doomed to live the remainder of their lives caught up in their own neurosis. But the director has been merciful, here. He’s given each of the brothers the woman they desire – and even went so far to patch things up with Mum and Dad.

And maybe that’s the whole point of the film: that even the worst contestants in the game of love can win if they’re staying at the Hotel de Love.

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Richard Luck is the Founder and Technical Director for Pif Magazine.