Hotel Chevalier is a short film written and directed by Wes Anderson and released in 2007. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman as former lovers who reunite in a Paris hotel room, the 13-minute film acts as a prologue to Anderson’s 2007 feature The Darjeeling Limited. It was shot on location in a Parisian hotel by a small crew and self-financed by Anderson, who initially intended it to be a stand-alone work. Its first showing was at the Venice Film Festival première of the feature film on September 2, 2007, and it made its own debut later that month at Apple Stores in four American cities. The day after its première, it was made available for free from the iTunes Store for one month, during which it was downloaded more than 500,000 times. Hotel Chevalier became one of the most-discussed short films of the year, with much popular attention drawn in particular by Portman’s extended nude scene. The film garnered near-universal critical acclaim from reviewers who compared it favorably with The Darjeeling Limited and praised its richness, poignancy, and careful construction.
In a hotel lobby, the concierge answers a phone call from one of the guests’ rooms. A man (Jason Schwartzman) lies on a hotel bed in a yellow bathrobe, watching the black-and-white American war film Stalag 17 and reading the newspaper. After ordering room service from the concierge in broken French, he receives a call from a woman whose voice he recognizes. She tells him she is on her way from the airport and asks for his room number. Despite objecting that he did not tell her she could come, the man consents nevertheless. He then hurriedly attempts to tidy the room – pausing to play the opening bars of the song “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” by Peter Sarstedt on his stereo system – and runs a bath.
The man is again lying on the bed, now in a gray suit. Hearing a knock, he starts the song playing again before opening the door to a woman (Natalie Portman). After staring at him for several seconds, the woman breaks the silence by asking what music is playing. Receiving no response, she steps into the room and presents the man with a bouquet of flowers. When she moves to kiss him on the mouth, he turns his head away and they embrace instead. He closes the door and asks how she found him; she replies that it “wasn’t actually that hard”. She moves around the room browsing through his possessions, brushes her teeth with his toothbrush and declines to take the bath he had run for her.
Stepping back into the bedroom, the woman turns to face the man and confronts him, asking slowly “what the fuck is going on?” He motions to her to join him on the bed and at her prompting, he reveals in the ensuing conversation that he has been living in the hotel room for “more than a month”, and that he had left to escape their relationship. They lie back on the bed looking at one another before being interrupted by the arrival of room service. Once alone again, the two kiss and the man begins to undress the woman. They have an uncomfortable exchange about not having slept with other people and when he notices bruises on her arm after undressing her further, the woman chooses not to comment on them. Lying on top of him, she tells the man that she does not want to lose his friendship, that she loves him and never meant to hurt him. He responds coldly that he “will never be your friend”, but holds her when she embraces him. “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” starts again and the man offers to show the woman his view of Paris.
The woman is perched against an armoire, the man approaching and covering her naked body with the yellow bathrobe, and the two moving towards the window. After they step out on the balcony, the man draws a toothpick from his pocket and hands it to her with an upwards nod, which she reciprocates. After looking out for another few seconds she clasps his neck lightly and they step back inside.
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