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Laramie Movie Scope: The Royal Hotel

Fear and loathing in the Outback

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 23, 2024 – This movie, streaming on Binge, about people going out of control at a remote pub in Australia is a microcosm for societies gone crazy during the isolation caused by covid. Loosely based on the 2016 documentary “Hotel Coolgardie,” this movie, written and directed by Kitty Green, tells a story about two American girls who take jobs at a pub in a remote mining area.

Hanna (played by Julia Garner of “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”) and Liv (played by Jessica Henwick of “Love and Monsters”) pretend they are Canadians to avoid harassment by the locals, but that doesn't work. They get harassed anyway by the local men who feel entitled to sexual favors from the women.

Liv runs out of money when they are on vacation and Hanna doesn't want to take the job in the Australian Outback, so there is tension between the two from the beginning. Liv needs the money and is more tolerant of the insulting, crude language and sexual advances of the locals. She wants to stay for the full three month contract, while Hanna just wants to get out as soon as possible.

It doesn't help that their boss, Billy (Hugo Weaving of “V for Vendetta”) is not only a misogynist, but he's also an alcoholic and a bad businessman. He gets falling down drunk at the bar and has not paid one of his suppliers for three months. He also neglects to pay Hanna and Liv.

Billy's wife, and pub cook, Carol (Ursula Yovich of “Australia”) a no-nonsense aborigine woman seems unfriendly to Hanna and Liv at first, but it turns out she is practically the only sane, responsible person at the pub. Everybody else gets roaring drunk and out of control every night, including one of the few women patrons, Glenda (Barbara Lowing).

The men at the pub like Liv a lot more than they like Hanna, who is more reserved. The men clearly want Hanna and Liv to be a lot more like the last two women who worked at the pub, English tourists Jules (Alex Malone) and Cassie (Kate Cheel) who danced on top of the bar on their last night at the pub.

Liv gets friendly with a couple of pub patrons, Teeth (James Frecheville of “Zátopek”) and Matty (Toby Wallace of “Babyteeth”). Another guy, Dolly (Daniel Henshall of “Okja”) is friendly, but Hanna fears he is dangerous. He seems to have short temper. Liv thinks he is harmless.

The isolation and loneliness, combined with alcohol and toxic masculinity, leads to violence at times. There are few women in this mining area, and that leads to conflicts as well. People in this area just go crazy at times, and there is no hint of law enforcement. This reminded me of the isolation caused by covid, leading to an increase in antisocial behavior similar to that seen in this film.

This small, isolated society is delicately balanced on the cliff edge of a canyon of chaos. When it finally falls off, it is not unexpected, but, even so, the final events are not what I was expecting. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2024 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]