Hotel Soul Good film review: Chrissie Chau in supernatural comedy
Cheesy direction and a lack of nuance hamper this well-intentioned Hong Kong film about a hardbitten executive who starts seeing ghosts everywhere and enlists them to run a hostel with her
This well-intentioned supernatural comedy has shades of Hong Kong filmmaker Wai Ka-fai’s high-concept screenplays with its story of a loner taking important life lessons from the ghosts and spirits she encounters. But the cheesy direction of Anthony Yan Pak-wing (who co-scripted the film with three other writers) and its lack of nuance or special effects make the film a mere curiosity item.
Following on from her acclaimed role in 29+1 as a career woman who pauses to take stock of her life, Chrissie Chau Sau-na plays a character in similar circumstances – albeit in the most ludicrous manner possible – in Hotel Soul Good. Toughened by a childhood in an orphanage, Katie (Chau) is now a callous senior hotel executive who strikes fear into the hearts of her colleagues – that is, until she loses her job and her boyfriend at a stroke and suffers a cosmic accident.
Soon after she wakes up, Katie begins to see ghosts everywhere, and three of them (played by Eric Kot Man-fai, Maggie Siu Mei-kei and Richard Ng Yiu-hon) move into her flat. Then she inherits a rundown hostel, rebrands it as a morbid tourist destination, and runs it with the three ghosts and a spirit medium (Louis Cheung Kai-chung) they tell her to hire.
Chau has clearly tried her best in this frankly ridiculous role, but the real attractions of this oddly structured comedy-drama are her older co-stars. Kot, Siu and Ng add colour to Katie’s unconventional household, even though their parts are underwritten, while veterans such as Vincent Wan Yeung-ming, Helena Law Lan and Susan Shaw Yin-yin all leave an impression with their minor supporting parts.
A potentially heart-warming film derailed by mediocre storytelling and miserly production design, Hotel Soul Good is nevertheless a passable diversion for audiences looking for an unusual story. However, Yan could have delivered a much better follow-up to Vampire Cleanup Department , which he co-directed and which showed several flashes of promise.
Hotel Soul Good opens on October 18
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