The Royal Hotel

18 Blu-ray, DVD

The backpacker’s dream, to take off for far flung destinations and have yourself some Insta memories that will stay with you a lifetime.

Unfortunately the reality can often be less glamorous, with your face sticking to a bus window in the middle of night in the middle of nowhere, only to find your running low on cash and will have to take some kind of low paid job along the way to keep on going.

And that’s pretty much the premise for this Australian film, that’s apparently based on a documentary.

boom reviews The Royal Hotel
Not exactly how it looked in the brochure...

Doing the backpacking thing down under are two young American friends Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick). They’re living it up in Sydney, when Liv realises that she’s pretty much out of cash. With going home not an option, they decide to go to a job agency and find some work.

The good news is that they have work available, working in a pub, but the bad news is, it’s in the middle of nowhere. But as they have few options, they agree to it.

And so they find themselves behind the bar of The Royal Hotel, a somewhat bleak destination that merely serves the local miners working there.

It is about as far removed from a go to Lonely Planet hotspot as you can get, serving rowdy miners in the desert. And as you can imagine, they get a lot of attention from the male population, and not all of it is at all welcome.

boom reviews The Royal Hotel
I told you a chocolate fountain would just be abused.

It’s no surprise to learn that this work of fiction, written and directed by Australian Kitty Green, was inspired by a documentary, considering Green herself started out making them herself. This is only her second fiction feature, and it feels as if she hasn’t found her stride yet.

She does well in setting the scene, doing a swell job of making the pub environ intimate and somewhat claustrophobic, which is impressive considering its remote locale.

There’s a tangible tension in the air that builds, satisfyingly, throughout, as an aggressive toxic masculinity becomes ever more prevalent and threatening.

Unfortunately it never amounts to anything more than that. Purring along in one gear and almost not having the confidence to take it up a notch.

The performances from its two female leads do their job well, as they navigate the masculine heavy workplace, but the characters, much like the film itself, struggle to develop.

This leads to a rather lacklustre finale, that’s just a little too obvious, lacking any creativity or originality. It’s difficult to see how much inspiration the original documentary material must have offered, as it results in a film with the following premise: two attractive backpackers get some grief working in a pub that serves men.

The one takeaway from the film is mostly that men are dicks after drinking too much, and their treatment of the opposite sex in that state is abhorrent. Which should be news to absolutely no one.

Some interesting characters then, that certainly could have done with some fleshing out, but with its weak story, and the underwhelming way it’s told, means that if The Great Hotel was featured on Tripadvisor, it wouldn’t be seeing a great influx of visitors anytime soon.

we give this two out of five