Wes Anderson’s Hotel Chevalier (2007) is a short film, prologue to his full-length feature The Darjeeling Limited. Its premiere at the Venice Film festival in 2007 received warm reviews from critics and has long been one of my favourite films. It is far more complex than meets the eye and in a mere 13 minutes touches on subjects like human desire, loneliness and the psychology of relationships.
This multi-dimensional short is about two ex- lovers, one who is willing to do anything to escape a toxic love affair (Jason Schwartzman) and the other who simply won’t leave a poisonous relationship alone (Natalie Portman). Anderson’s intention of including Peter Sarstedt’s Where do you go to my lovely? adds a nostalgic and thematic note to make Hotel Chevalier a memorable moment in its entirety. When Schwartzman first plays the song as he readies his hotel suite for the arrival of his femme fatal, the song bears little significance. After a loaded conversation and a few quirky interactions with Portman, the song’s encore opens up Schwartman’s wounded heart and his inability to unravel what his lover truly desires from life and from his love, as Sarstedt croons, “Where do you go to my lovely,when you’re alone in your bed?”. Hotel Chevalier is dark, yet meaningful. Take from it what you will, but you will more than likely be able to empathize with at least one side of this dangerous love affair.