The central character is Tom Tom (Davies), a mentally unstable resident of the title hotel, which is full of refugees from a mental hospital. While mourning the suicide of his best friend, Tom is obsessed with the elusive Eloise (Jovovich), who considers herself just as fictional as the characters in the novels she's always reading. Then a pair of FBI agents (Gibson and Logue) arrive to investigate the suicide, which they claim was murder. And the hotel residents decide to play with the agents' heads.
There's not a "normal" person in this film, but what strikes you immediately is that the world is actually full of people just like this. And more importantly, the script (based on a story by U2's Bono, who also produced the film and wrote some of the score) lets us glimpse ourselves in each one. Davies is kinetic and very funny, especially as he locks horns with Gibson's character, who's a hilarious bundle of nerves himself. Yes, it's extremely contrived ... and you get the feeling that every person, situation and line of dialog is supposed to mean something. But the details are delightful (Storemare's character thinks he's the lost Beatle; his dialog is a hilarious string of lyrics), Wenders once again directs with an eye for original and telling imagery, and overall the film does indeed say something quite intriguing. Just the tonic for when Hollywood's formulaic approach to storytelling starts to get you down.
[15--themes, language, violence] 17.Apr.00
UK release 28.Apr.00; US release 2.Feb.01
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