I’m going to put it right out front that prior to watching LOST GIRLS & LOVE HOTELS, I had no idea what a love hotel was. Based on the title, I assumed it was possibly more of a metaphor (this could still be perceived that way after watching it). Looking it up online, the name really does say it all: it’s for the purpose of sex and nothing else. It’s an intriguing concept to focus on and director William Olsson (An American Affair) takes our lead into a euphoric love affair.
Margaret (Alexandra Daddario, Texas Chainsaw 3D) is an American English teacher who spends her days assisting young citizens of Japan how to annunciate English terminology to perfect their customer service skills when they work as flight attendants. At night, she frequents bars with her friends, but likes to take it a little too far with a bit much to drink. The Tokyo nightlife helps her forget a haunting past that often leads her to dark alleyways, usually concluding in one of their love hotels. While scrolling through erotic artwork in a bookstore, Margaret bumps into a Yakuza named Kazu (Takehiro Hira). Like her other encounters, this starts off physical, but she desires him more as he succumbs to her sexual needs without issue. However, his secrecy intrigues her, leaving Margaret to walk down a darker path she didn’t realize she needed.
Daddario has been a familiar face to the horror for the last few years. Her breakout role in the genre was in the divisive Texas Chainsaw 3D from 2013. The pseudo prequel saw Daddario learning she is related to the infamous Leatherface when she heads to get an inheritance. The timeline made no sense, but us fans still shelled out the money to see chainsaws and bodies piling up in 3D. She’s ventured out into bigger budget productions such as the Percy Jackson movies and Baywatch, but continues to be seen in smaller genre films, most recently We Summon The Darkness. However, her abilities always felt a bit limited. But in LOST GIRLS & LOVE HOTELS, Daddario shines onscreen despite the dark material. It’s here that she’s given meat to feast on, even with simple gestures like stumbling into a classroom after a rough night. Not much dialogue is needed for those moments as she lets her eyes do the talking.
Director Olsson embraces color schemes and the decor of the love hotels Margaret finds herself in. Walks down alleyways seem both dangerous and erotic at the same time, but never a good idea. Her relationship with Kazu has that uncertainty that’s understandably embraced. Olsson takes writer Catherine Hanrahan’s (adapted from her own book) script on a journey that flows rather than carries. There’s no direction from point A to B here. The audience acts as mere observers on an affair that fits no mold.
LOST GIRLS & LOVE HOTELS is a neon romance that blurs the lines between love and lust. The setting is only fitting for a non-traditional romance that finds itself blossoming in the dark.
LOST GIRLS & LOVE HOTELS is now available on Digital and On-Demand today!