In Kitty Green's cinematic realm, the expansive Australian Outback transforms into a captivating canvas in her latest film, The Royal Hotel.
Teaming up once again with Julia Garner, the radiant star of The Assistant, Green weaves a narrative that delves into the mysterious depths of a remote Australian pub, laying bare the nightly trials faced by two resilient backpackers. Set in a rural Outback town where phone reception is elusive, Hanna (Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick) find themselves as barmaids, navigating a landscape fraught with hostility after depleting their funds in Sydney.
The austere setting, simultaneously unwelcoming and paradoxically inviting, serves as the backdrop for encounters with an alcoholic boss, Billy (Hugo Weaving), and a clientele of handsy, inebriated men. The camaraderie between Hanna and Liv, a potential comedic duo, takes a dark turn as they confront insidious misogyny, transforming the film into a profound exploration of Australia's drinking culture.
In Australia, we have this way of talking about things, where we’re like, don’t worry about him. He’s alright. Even when someone’s a little funny, we often put up with it. I was trying to highlight that sometimes it’s OK to stand up for yourself and say no - Green
Within the dimly lit passages of The Royal Hotel, Green spins a tale echoing her own wanderlust-filled youth. Drawing inspiration from her couch-surfing adventures through Europe, the film portrays the dynamic friendship between Hanna and Liv—a poignant reflection of the cautious and carefree duality of travel companions.
It’s about two young women standing up for themselves. I don’t know if older generations do that so much, but young people do - Green
The film, akin to a haunting melody, crescendos as micro-aggressions transform into macro threats. Hanna and Liv grapple with the persistent menace of violence, challenging societal expectations. Green eschews conventional horror narratives, opting for subtlety. The film's influences, ranging from zombie tropes to western motifs, provide a nuanced backdrop to the infectious chaos fueled by alcohol.
Toby Wallace, Ursula Yovich, Daniel Henshall, James Frecheville, and Herbert Nordrum also join this cinematic journey. Premiering at Telluride, The Royal Hotel is produced by Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Liz Watts, and Kath Shelper—a testament to Kitty Green and her visionary team's exploration into the heart of the Australian wilderness.