Film Review: Lost Girls & Love Hotels

STUDIO: Astrakan Releasing | DIRECTOR: William Olsson | CAST: Alexandra Daddario, Takehiro Hira, Carice van Houten, Andrew Rothney, Kate Easton
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 18, 2020
SPECS: R | 97 min. | Drama thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 3Dishes.jpg (40×13)

By day, Lost Girls & Love Hotels‘ Margaret (Alexandra Daddario, HBO’s True Detective) is a young professional American woman living in Japan and instructing aspiring flight attendants in the correct pronunciation of proper English. By night, she drinks copious amounts of alcohol with her friends Ines (Carice van Houten, Game of Thrones) and Liam (Andrew Rothney, Mary Queen of Scots) and gets lost in the seedy, back alleys of Tokyo to indulge in risky S&M-flavored sexual encounters in love hotels (rent by the hour rooms) to dull a tragic past and lonely present.

Margaret appears to find the perfect distraction when she begins a torrid affair with Kazu (Takehiro Hira, The Fighter Pilot), a member of Japan’s violent Yakuza crime syndicate. As someone who gets off on danger, Kazu’s occupation is an intoxicating part of his appeal to Margaret. However, when the reality of their relationship sets in, Kazu steps away, prompting Margaret to spiral into even greater depths of self-destruction.

It’s not hard to make comparisons to Fifty Shades of Grey. Where Lost Girls & Love Hotels succeeds is by taking its source material with some notable seriousness and giving Margaret agency over her sexual proclivities. But it still mirrors its predecessor by not delving far enough into its subject matter.

It’s as if director William Olsson (An American Affair) is fearful of alienating audiences and deliberately offers us a glimpse through the peephole without ever opening the door. The film does a great job in showcasing the duality of contemporary Tokyo—the juxtaposition of its beautiful architecture and high-end restaurants against its darker, more sordid corners. But it never gains any real dramatic intensity as it ignores any emotional complexity behind Margaret’s pain and doesn’t get up-close to examine the cultural and societal entanglements that make a relationship with Kazu impossible.

For her part, Daddario takes on the film’s most provocative sequences and gives an earnest performance, though the star of Baywatch and San Andreas seems a little out of her depth (partly due to Catherine Hanrahan’s shallow screenplay–adapted from her 2006 novel of the same name–which leaves its characters underdeveloped).

There are some intelligent, sensual and nuanced moments in Lost Girls & Love Hotels, I just left wishing there were more of them.

Lost Girls & Love Hotels is available on digital and On Demand September 18, 2020.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at