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By Eric Campos | June 23, 2008

Filmmaker Sonja Heiss takes us on a sprawling journey through South East Asia as we join five European tourists, each on their own personal adventure of self-escape, self-discovery, or perhaps the discovery of someone to make a connection with. A german tourist dives head first into a hoaky spiritual commune while an Irish tourist wanders the Indian desert. We also follow two twenty-something brits as they bicker with one another while hitting on hippie chicks at a string of raves in Thailand. And then there’s a woman who, from her hotel room, is trying to make flight arrangements to leave Bangkok, but is having difficulty due to a language barrier that is, at first, frustrating, but soon becomes charming and even leads to an unlikely friendship.

“Hotel Very Welcome” plays out very much like a Wong Kar Wai film with its characters living a lonely existence, wandering through their bustling surroundings, unable to properly connect with anything or anyone which works out for our benefit in the way of plenty of humorously quirky moments. The only thing missing really is Christopher Doyle’s lush cinematography. Not that that’s a problem really. Gratefully shot on film, “Hotel Very Welcome” provides plenty of eye candy and stands as an awesome visual trip through South East Asia.

I have to admit, I wasn’t really feeling this film at first, “Hotel Very Welcome” is a slow builder and, like any stranger in a strange land journey, one needs to adapt to his or her surroundings before you can become comfortable and truly enjoy them. This is how I felt with all of the characters. As their adventures yielded more and more quirky encounters, the more I warmed to them and have even come to miss some of them as the film has long since come to a close. I recommend paying a visit to “Hotel Very Welcome.” It’s a cinematic vacation very much worth your time.

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