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HOTEL DE LOVE(director/writer: Craig Rosenberg; cinematographer: Stephen Windon; editor: Bill Murphy; music: Brett Rosenberg; cast: Aden Young (Rick Dunne), Saffron Burrows (Melissa), Simon Bossell (Stephen Dunne), Pippa Grandison (Alison), Ray Barrett (Jack), Julia Blake (Edith), Alan Hopgood (Ronnie), Peter O’Brien (Norman); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Michael Lake/David Parker; Artisan Entertainment; 1996-Australia)
“The film is not creative enough to get out of the tacky scenario it painted for itself.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A kitsch romantic comedy from Australia that is directed and written by first-timer Craig Rosenberg, that is sometimes perceptive and funny but too often inane and crass and cheesy like the TV sitcoms it is supposedly spoofing or borrowing from.

In the opening scenes ”Hotel de Love” flashes back 10 years when Rick (Aden Young) and his fraternal twin brother Stephen (Simon Bossell), and their reciprocal love interest, Melissa (Saffron Burrows), were all 17 and met at a party. Stephen narrates the film and tells that he first spotted Melissa from across the room and had an immediate crush on her, but his more aggressive brother raced over to her side and got involved with her in a brief summer romance until she left for college in England. She has not been seen by either since, but both are still smitten by her.

Back in the present the shy Stephen has found life dull but has gained material success as a stockbroker, and his weird hobby is hanging around at airports and guessing which arriving passengers are met by a lover and those who are alone. While the cynical Rick manages the tacky Hotel de Love, an establishment catering to a honeymoon clientele interested in the full-treatment of romantic fantasy–every room has a different love theme and a heart-shaped bathtub.

Melissa surprisingly enters the picture as a philosophy prof, as she arrives at the hotel with her nerdy older psychiatrist fiance Norman at the very same time the twins’ feuding parents, Jack (Ray Barrett) and Edith (Julia Blake), decide to renew their wedding vows –which brings Stephen to the hotel. Rick gets excited at Melissa’s presence and vigorously goes after the confused girl again, but this time things don’t work out. While the socially awkward Stephen also wants to pursue her and is being advised and chased after by one of Rick’s former flames, the hotel fortune teller, Alison (Pippa Grandison). She happens to be more clueless about love than either twin.

The film is not creative enough to get out of the tacky scenario it painted for itself, as the ticklish situation of sibling rivalry is never fully explored and the storyline deteriorates into some embarrassing romantic scenes that have no point and are only crudely funny (at least I found the material not suited to my taste). In the background there are a number of irritating Aussie pop tunes about love, which were hard to ignore. The film could have played as an episode of television’s The Love Boat. Shamelessly in its ads, it tries to compare itself to ”Four Weddings and a Funeral.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”