& # 39; Bad Times at the Royale & # 39; Bad Times at the Royale & # 39; it's an inventive thriller

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Each "room" (ie, each guest and member of staff) at El Royale gets its own dedicated segment of the movie, complete with a Tarantino-esque title card. Like Tarantino, Goddard delights in playing with timelines, with each new story shedding light on previous ones. The movie The royale The one that most evokes is Tarantino's recent and extremely unsuccessful effort, the odious eight, a post-Civil War western that threw eight strangers into a remote cabin and caused them to bounce off each other. The royale He does not have the bad streak that the movie had, but he is fighting in a similar way with the death of the American dream, only in a more melancholic way.

Who are the occupants in El Royale? There's Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a priest with a marble mouth and an irregular memory who seems determined to rent a room in particular. Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo) is an aspiring singer who is looking for a practice space before a crucial concert. Laramie Sullivan (Jon Hamm) is a seller of vacuum cleaners with a Louisiana accent that could be described as Foghorn Leghorn – adjacent. Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson) is a stranger who wears cowboy boots with a bad attitude and a mysterious sister (Cailee Spaeny).

Each has a grim story to share, and that is before the arrival of Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth), a charismatic and often shirtless cult leader who immerses himself in the action at the end of the game. Nobody at El Royale is telling the whole truth, but it's obvious that Darlene is the heroine of the Goddard movie. She has been given two sets of arrest, one at the beginning of the film, centered on Erivo who sings a song passionately while developing all kinds of exciting action around him. Erivo, winner of a Tony Award, is a great actress, an even better singer and the main reason to see this movie.

But there are many other intriguing elements at play. In crafting the background stories of his set, Goddard mingles furiously with the sins of the Vietnam War, the tasteless legacies of the Kennedy and Nixon administrations, the menacing specter of drug addiction and the dark side of the movement for free love. Some feel impeccable, and others seem shod; One of the best characters comes out too fast, while the least interesting dominates in the last hour.

Still, I have to applaud Goddard's ambition even when it's over. Yes, Bad times in El Royale It's bloated and could have worked better as a bit of neo-noir. But it is rare that a genre film feels so rapturous and inventive; in fact, the Cabin in the woods It is one of the most recent examples that come to mind. This is a story where the many machinations of the plot are at the service of the greatest thematic points. There may be too many things going on, but as the final act descends to the carnage, Goddard is at least trying to say something.

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David Sims is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where it covers culture.


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