From the maddening walls of the isolated Overlook Hotel in The Shining to the decaying grandeur of the ski resort in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, these temporary residences for tourists and travellers have become popular settings for film narratives both long and short (Anderson also made the 13-minute Hotel Chevalier). The latest director to set his story in such an establishment is Amsterdam-based filmmaker Jeroen Houben, with his endlessly charming and immaculately produced 14-minute short Home Suite Home.
Following weary Hotel Inspector Ludwig as he travels the world reviewing the mini-bars, room-service, infinite supply of clean towels and tiny bars of soap of the lodgings he frequents, though Home Suite Home’s premise might sound somewhat dull and dreary, it’s to Houben’s credit that what we’re actually presented with is a humorous and charismatic watch.
Describing the hotel setting of his short as “fertile ground for an intriguing story”, the director really takes advantage of the many strange decor choices and monotonous routines involved with this type of transitional living. Opening with static shots of paintings on walls, that the voiceover describes as “an open window to the world”, there’s a distinctly European feeling to the production of Home Suite Home (with a twist of Wes Anderson thrown in for good measure) which seems to perfectly match the tone and comedy of the piece.
“You never know what you’ll find”, Houben says when describing the corridors of large hotels, but with Home Suite Homealthough it feels like a unique film, told by an assured voice, there’s a certain familiar warmth to it that leaves you grinning inanely at its conclusion.