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MaddWolf
Movie Reviews, DVD Picks, Shenanigans

Lost (Girls) in Translation

Lost (Girls) in Translation

Lost Girls and Love Hotels

by Brandon Thomas

“I tell myself…there’s no happy ending.”

Cinema revels in emotion. It’s why the artform has lasted well over a century. We love to experience films that make us laugh, make us afraid, and make us examine even the darkest of our decisions. Lost Girls & Love Hotels is an exploration of these painful, disorientated choices.

Margaret (Alexandra Daddario) is an American ex-pat living in Japan. By day, she teaches at a training academy for Japanese stewardesses. By night, Margaret loses herself in booze and random rendezvous in the red light district. Her life of debauchery softens after she meets a brooding Yakuza (Takehiro Hira).

Margaret’s pain and self-loathing are apparent from the opening frames: she drunkenly stumbles through a subway entrance, tears brimming in her wide eyes as she realizes a man is lurking behind her. Fear is less apparent in her distant gaze. What I saw was more akin to someone finally succumbing to their demons. This was rock bottom.

Lost Girls & Love Hotels isn’t looking to break new ground. There’s no way this movie could. What’s interesting – and original – is how this kind of movie is told through the point of view of a female character. We’ve seen self-destructive dudes do this for eons. Let the ladies have a turn at spiraling out of control! 

Daddario turns in an impressive performance as Margaret. She walks a fine line – showing the character’s high-highs and low-lows with ease. Her wide-eyed, all-American look helps her stand out in a mostly Japanese cast. One would expect a person with such outwardly beauty to harbor very little in the way of pain. For a character like this one, believability is key, and Daddario delivers. 

Director William Olsson and writer Catherine Hanrahan (adapting her own novel) haven’t set out to make a salacious sex drama. While Margaret’s BDSM escapades inform who her character is, Lost Girls & Love Hotels is more interested in a person who has latched onto numbing behavior. Isolation, even with a core group of friends and co-workers, is ever-present in Margaret’s condensed world. 

There’s a simmering sense of danger running through the entire film. Olsson never wrings false drama out of it, but that subtle feeling is there nevertheless. When Margaret does find herself in a precarious situation, it feels more like an eventuality, not the tacked-on payoff to a sleazy thriller.

Grounded with an outstanding lead performance, Lost Girls & Love Hotels is a look at how sadness and isolation isn’t something you can run away from – even if you run halfway across the world. 

Written by maddwolf

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