The Trappings of Potential: Our Review of ‘The Hotel Dieu’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 20, 2016

The Hotel Dieu‘s aesthetic and editing is where it excels the most. At first the flash backs didn’t make any sense to me because of the early transitions. They were too subtle and sparse. Recent Canadian films have been wearing the avant-garde aspects of the editing, and this seemed to be the polar opposite. I wanted the film to push a bit more towards the artistic side sooner, but it was worth the wait to see that happen. The film captures how the mind works – memory, imagination, triggers (and the self-infliction of returning to them). There are also unintentional comic associations, subtle jokes and references.

Although it is difficult to with the immature, irreverent protagonist, Luke (Andrew Rotillo). Of course, writer Michael Krasnay won’t make it easy for his audience to give the sympathy question a straight answer. He complicates this further when he shows Luke driving under the influence. He gets into a car accident which causes him to be temporarily blind. Being in this situation, he has to occasionally visit the titular Hotel Dieu, a hospital in St. Catharines where he has to visit a psychiatrist and find out from another specialist if he’ll regain his sight.

The costume and acting choices don’t give me of the gravity of his situation, as temporary as it might be. Director Andrew Thiessen also makes the unfortunate decision to film a sideways close-up of Rotillo. He thus makes it obvious that the latter closes his eyes while acting blind. And I know, that blind people can open their eyes as much as people who aren’t visually impaired.


The supporting actors are slightly better. Namely the actor who plays Luke’s brother Travis, Charlie Hamilton, and Bob Douglas as his therapist. During a fight before the fateful crash, Hamilton brings out a regional Ontario accent that he should always keep in his back pocket. Douglas, on the other hand, brings the gravitas the we perceive to be natural to avuncular, middle aged men who demands an attentive ear.

Thiessen and Krasnay do not have a lot of future projects. Thiessen is producing another film instead of directing. I’ve heard of how difficult it is to get a project off the ground. But despite of the some logistical flubs, both writer and director have so much potential that I want to see either or both work together or separately on a well researched script.


  • Release Date: 10/21/2016
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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