18 members present
15 stayed for the discussion
The discussion was extremely interesting, nearly unanimous in praising the film. Only two people were very critical. One objected to the way the old man manipulated his son, the other was very bored. This surprised me because the 4 ex-members of the Brent U3A group who meet occasionally did not appreciate it at all, mainly for its male point of view and abundance of cinematic cliches.
I did introduce the session by saying that while British reviewers were unanimous in liking the film, the French press were less enthusiastic.
Below are the main recorded points of the discussion.
– There is nothing that I can question about it. So accurately real, a documentary
– about dying but life affirmingfilm amazing, describing another culture.
– I did not like the son being exploited by the father.
– The relationship between the father exploiting the son
– It is the same in our culture. The wage earner bears all the weight of families
– relationship father, son, grandfather, granddaughter, death as a natural event, even joyous at the end. In our civilisation death is taboo. I like the way it is confronted, – I loved the scene where the father is dying and next minute he is watching the space
– I was in India and in Varanasi – amazing place – very spiritual. It must be like Mecca for the Moslems. The family element – travel – it takes the audience in places they would not normally see
– the piles of wood, the hotel and its squalor –
– worthwhile film in every way
As usual the process of condensing a conversation into the main points of the discussion hide the emotional impact of the film.
But what did the French object to ? asked some members. I tried to quote some of the criticism of the direction, the pace of the narrative, the male point of view. The contributions carried on with enthusiasm
– I have been to India not as a tourist but with a family. It is just like that, you do get the milk from the cow. It gets the atmosphere of India
– all the characters achieve peace
– director self effacing- the fact that the old man was dying led the family to confront their situations and achieve what they wanted to achieve and think about life
– I think that they do believe that they come back as an animal
– There were such interesting little details
– very educational
– funny scenes communication on the phone
– he wanted to die alone
– people often die when carers, relatives are out of the room
– more about difficulties with the son than about death- eastern religions view of death he is going to be reborn
– love interest: this is what happens in old people homes
– the critic as a male view is bizarre because all films are from a male pt of view
– some scenes are too long
– it depicted Buddim practices, but there are many other religions in India. –the comic side was important
-there was no serious exposition of the buddhist beliefs just as in the West there are no deep consideration of the christian religions
-I thought the sentence about being part of the ocean and the talks about reincarnation were enough
It is the conclusion of Yves G’s review (in All Cine) that explain to me both the likes and dislike of reviewers and audience:
Hotel Salvation is a sensitive film that one would have loved to love. But it is not exotic enough to disorientate, not American enough to discover its influences, not serious enough to be heartbreaking, not lighthearted enough to make us smile. On the bank of the Ganges as on the bank of the Styx, it remains between two shores in its hesitation to declare its point of view.
“Hotel Salvation” est un film délicat qu’on aurait aimé aimer. Mais il n’est pas assez exotique pour être dépaysant, pas assez américain pour qu’on y trouve ses marques, pas assez grave pour être déchirant, pas assez léger pour nous faire sourire. Au Gange, comme on serait au bord du Styx, il reste entre deux rives à force d’hésiter sur son parti pris.