Hotel Very Welcome – **

Posted: March 2, 2012 in 2007, Dramedy, Germany, XX

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0949423/

I’m not quite sure if I would have liked this movie if I had seen it BEFORE I went to India and Thailand. Part of the reason why I did appreciate it, was because I recognized most of the situations depicted in this collection of stories about five Europeans traveling in the above mentioned countries. I actually think that was the only reason. I could sum op a dozen of reasons why this is not a good movie, but in the end, I enjoyed it.

The stories are very recognizable and even though you won’t empathize with any of the characters, you do feel like they represent people you’ve met during backpacking trips in Asia. People travel for all kinds of purposes, one of which is to escape from their every day life at home. Marion leaves her boyfriend in Germany to stay at a fancy ashram in India to rediscover herself via silly group dances and yoga. Liam just learned that he got a girl pregnant back in Ireland and bought a ticket to India to escape the situation at home and enjoy being childless for as long as he can. Josh and Adam may be the best friends in Liverpool, but during a beach holiday in Thailand their friendship gets tested. And Svenja is stuck in a hotel room in Bangkok, where she tries to get a new ticket home.

The scenes are way too long and the soundtrack switches from boring hippie folk rock to second-rate house beats, but the acting is quiet good actually. You do get the feeling that you’re watching a documentary and not so much fiction. There’s a scene where four girls meet the two English friends by a waterfall and you see they want to leave as soon as possible, because they really don’t want to hang out with these two losers. And that’s exactly what the viewer would do if he would meet them in person. So in that sense, Ricky Champ and Gareth Llewelyn are excellent in portraying the kind of people you really don’t want to encounter during your holidays.

But again, what makes the movie are the recognizable situations. The conversations about one night stands vs arranged marriages with Indians. The inability of the Thai people to actually speak English that you understand. The chaos at Indian bus stands where everybody you ask directions points you in a different way. Those tourists you meet who have no respect whatsoever for the local culture, but are just there because it’s ‘cheap booze’. And yes, also the idea of leaving a country not only to discover another, but also to escape from whatever you want to leave behind.

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