Lost Girls and Love Hotels
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: William Olsson
Writer: Catherine Hanrahan
Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Takehiro Hira, Carice van Houten
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R for strong sexual content, nudity, and language
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Margaret, an American living in Tokyo, works as an English teacher at a Japanese flight attendant school. At night she gets drunk and more often than not finds herself a stranger to have sex with at one of the city’s love hotels.
Review: For the bulk of its 97 minutes, “Lost Girls and Love Hotels” isn’t remotely as exploitative as you might expect from a film that revolves around a woman’s sexual adventures in Tokyo. That will likely disappoint those who only came to gawk at Alexandra Daddario in various states of undress. They might not even notice that this is arguably Daddario’s best performance, an indication that there’s far more to the actress than her resume suggests. But what do I know? I have a weakness for AIDS activists with beautiful eyes.
“Lost Girls and Love Hotels” is an incredibly dour film. It’s also gorgeously shot as it follows Margaret (Daddario) as she descends into a haze of sex, drugs and neon-lit nights. It’s not nearly as provocative or filled with longing as a Wong Kar Wai film, but director William Olsson and cinematographer Kenji Katori do a fantastic job of sculpting the lush nature of the film’s night sequences and juxtaposing them with the starkness of Margaret’s day-to-day existence.
We know little of Margaret and the film isn’t interested in trying to explain what drives her self-destruction. We see her in the moment, the transient nature of her friendships and her desire to feel nothing beyond the fleeting moments of pain and sexual gratification.
Of course, Margaret falls in love with a yakuza (Takehiro Hira), a high-class criminal who understands how to satisfy her needs. The details of his life are scant as well. He’s better as an enigma. His charming moments unspoiled by whatever it is that he does to afford his fancy car and expensive suits.
Like its protagonist, the film falls apart in its third act. While much of the narrative feels grounded, the ending comes across like a warped fantasy from the abandoned pages of a Gaspar Noé screenplay.
“Lost Girls and Love Hotels” isn’t the sort of film that you enjoy. You can admire the way it is made, appreciate the dedication of the actors to their performances and be thankful for the life lessons it offers. Don’t expect to walk away smiling. It’s not that kind of movie.