Problemski Hotel – **(*)

Posted: December 28, 2016 in 2015, Belgium, Drama, Flanders, XX1/2

Problemski Hotel is an absurd drama about several refugees living in an asylum centre. It’s based on a book by Dimitri Verhulst, who’s quite a successful writer, but isn’t really known to be politically neutral. He spent some time in an asylum centre for an article in a newspaper and decided to write a book about it. Back in the early 2000s. The book is still on the shelf, but now that the movie turned out to be good, it’s next on the ‘to read’-list.

This screen adaptation isn’t as moralizing as you’d fear. The stories just show you realities. There are only a few superfluous scenes with biased content. (the depiction of a school teacher as being insensitive and racist doesn’t add anything to the story) Luckily, there are many more scenes that won’t annoy you. Some are beautifully shot. Others are so absurd that they make total sense (the dragging of the christmas tree). Some are funny. Others are hard. All in all, it’s a very entertaining movie that evokes several emotions.

None of the performers are familiar faces in the Belgian movie and television industry. In fact, the main character is performed by a Palestinian-American living in Brussels! This Tarek Halaby should really audition for other parts as well. He’s great. His suave and cool performance gives his character the mysteriousness it needs. Gökhan Girginol and Evgenia Brendes both should get other parts as well.

It starts off as a weird arthouse movie for a select bunch of movie lovers, but once you get into the absurdly confronting mood, you’re in for a treat.

It’s homegrown, so it deserves a (*) extra.


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