The Royal Hotel
Two friends run out of cash while backpacking in Australia and must take jobs in an exploitative pub to fund their trip home.
Julia Garner (The Assistant) and Jessica Henwick (Glass Onion, TIFF ’22) star in a new thriller from director Kitty Green, about two young women who are put on the defensive when they arrive in a dusty mining town brimming with unfettered male aggression.
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Hanna (Garner) and Liv (Henwick) are backpacking across Australia when they run out of money and are forced to take jobs at The Royal Hotel, a bar in the outback. They’re immediately confronted by the sea of rowdy men who fill the bar on a daily basis. There’s no varnish to their testosterone and while Billy (Hugo Weaving), the perpetually drunk owner of the pub, toes the line and pushes back on the men when they go too far, he’s also enabled their behaviour in the first place. Liv tries to brush off the advances, but this only makes Hanna more anxious, as she starts to worry about her friend’s safety in addition to her own. It’s soon clear that the longer the women stick around, the more likely this continual threat will catch up to them.
Following the success of her debut feature, The Assistant, Green continues her vivisection of the power dynamics between men and women, using a bigger canvas to examine the more explicit side of this coin. From the casting to the production design, the elements of Green’s film come together to create a suffocating atmosphere where blistering tension is found in each conversation and around every corner.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: violence; mature themes; sexual innuendo; coarse language