By Sandra Kraisirideja
In a festival setting sometimes it’s gratifying just to watch a movie that lives up to its program description. A backwards compliment perhaps, but it doesn’t really describe “Hotel Very Welcome” entirely because the movie is pretty good.
“Hotel Very Welcome,” which screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is a light comedy that follows the misadventures of four different sets of travelers from Germany, Ireland and England and takes place in both Thailand and India.
One festival attendee remarked after the screening that the movie was reminiscent of “Lost in Translation” and there may be some truth to that statement, but “Hotel Very Welcome” is much less somber and introspective.
Director Sonja Hess has a hands-off, documentary style so even though “Hotel Very Welcome” is a narrative film it can sometimes feel like a travelogue.
The cast features a mix of up-and-coming international actors and some newcomers. All of them have not been introduced to American audiences yet, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Chris O’Dowd or Eva Loebau appear in some Hollywood films within the next few years.
O’Dowd is charming as an easygoing Irishman who escapes to India after finding out he fathered a child with a one night stand. Loebau’s character seeks refuge from a troubled relationship with her boyfriend by staying at a spiritual retreat center that offers lots of dancing, chanting and singing to help guests find inner peace.
What’s clever about this movie is the way the characters’ backgrounds and personal stories unfold in conversations the characters have with strangers who they meet along the way. Hess really gives the audience an opportunity to get to know the people in this movie.