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What a movie critic loves

Owen Gleiberman tells us why he loves Wes Anderson

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What a movie critic loves

I’m the last person on earth who ever expected to use the words what I love and Wes Anderson in the same sentence (you know, the whole quirky/twee/overdesigned/death-by-irony thing), yet I swooned over Hotel Chevalier, his 13-minute prequel to The Darjeeling Limited. (It won’t play in theaters but will appear on the DVD, and you can download it for free on iTunes.) For starters, it features one of the most wistfully beautiful pop songs I’ve ever heard — Peter Sarstedt’s ”Where Do You Go To (My Lovely),” a haunting folk waltz from 1969 that sounds like the most melancholy number Bob Dylan never recorded. In a Paris hotel suite and its adjoining balcony, Jason Schwartzman, as Darjeeling‘s Jack Whitman, triggers the song to play on his iPod just as his ex (Natalie Portman) arrives for what looks like a last rendezvous. He tries to win her back, but mostly he lets the music do the talking, and the deeply sweet sadness of lost love hovers over their encounter like perfume in the Garden of Eden. Hotel Chevalier is a gorgeous helping of heartbreak that points to the kind of filmmaker Anderson could be if he ever decided to stop being Wes Anderson.