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Alexandra Daddario Gives A Brave And Stirring Performance In “Lost Girls & Love Hotels”

Watching a character make poor choices can be a trying experience, depending on the genre at hand. Seeing this in a comedy? Potentially hilarious. Observing similar acts in a drama? Quite possibly heartbreaking. The new drama Lost Girls & Love Hotels comes very close to going too far over the edge, but a tremendous central turn from Alexandra Daddario saves the day. Without her, it would have been a bleak and unduly trying experience. With her, it becomes a tough but compelling bit of cinema. By no means is it an easy one to watch, but armed with Daddario’s performance, there’s enough here to make it worthy of a slight recommendation.

The movie is a character study, mixing some thriller elements into its drama. Margaret (Daddario) has found herself in Japan, living a duel life. By day, she’s an English teacher at a flight attendant academy, teaching a host of Japanese women the job. By night, she explores the neon puzzle that is Tokyo, often winding up in a bar or a love hotel, which are particularly designed for hooking up. Margaret clearly has no direction in life, almost winding up in the country by accident, but she floats about her days as if trying to forget something. Most of the time, she and fellow ex-pat Ines (Carice van Houten) just get drunk in a Japanese dive bar, leading to Margaret then picking up a random guy for a love hotel encounter. That starts to change when she crosses paths with Kazu (Takehiro Hira). Initially a suave yet mysterious man, she quickly learns that he’s actually a dashing yakuza, though she falls in love with him in short order, regardless. As she balances her hard memories with the potential hopefulness of a relationship, a portrait of this young woman begins to emerge. William Olsson directs a screenplay by Catherine Hanrahan (who also wrote the book), with music by Ola Fløttum, as well as cinematography from Kenji Katori. Supporting players include Kate Easton, Elisabeth Larena, Andrew Rothney, Mariko Tsutsui, and more.

Alexandra Daddario is the reason why this film works. She gives an emotionally naked performance, on top of the brave physical state of her character. It’s downright stirring to watch her try and overcome her poor choices, even if it largely seems to be halfhearted or in vain. Daddario has piercing eyes, so watching this hard to read character have such expressive ones makes for an interesting experience. You can’t get a read on her, but you desperately want to. She pulls this off with ease, even though it clearly had to be a tough shoot. Takehiro Hira is solid as well, but this 100% Daddario’s show, from start to finish.

Lost Girls & Love Hotels wallows in Margaret’s misery a bit too much, but Daddario is such a compelling actress, you’re willing to forgive director William Olsson and writer Catherine Hanrahan somewhat for the repetition. Now, the film is still too long, with iffy pacing that makes it seem even longer, but Hanrahan and Olsson are certainly committed to their premise. Luckily, with Daddario all in as well, they’re just able to pull it off.

Tomorrow, fans of Alexandra Daddario can see her best performance to date when Lost Girls & Love Hotels opens up. Daddario is undoubtedly terrific here, so anyone who’s been following her work should be excited by this challenging turn. At the same time, go in with eyes wide open, knowing it’s tough subject matter and the movie doesn’t hold back from being fairly bleak. If you can handle that, this is an imperfect, yet strangely hypnotic, flick. Give it a look and see what you think.

Be sure to check out Lost Girls & Love Hotels, available to watch this weekend!

(Photos courtesy of Astrakan Film AB)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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