The Royal Hotel parents guide

The Royal Hotel Parent Guide

This film has a lot to say about sexual harassment, but it's often drowned out by the booze and profanity.

Overall D

Theaters (limited release): Two friends take jobs at a remote hotel in the Australian outback, only to discover that there is danger aplenty and help is a long way away.

Release date October 6, 2023

Violence C-
Sexual Content D
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is The Royal Hotel rated R? The MPAA rated The Royal Hotel R for language throughout and sexual content/nudity

Run Time: 91 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick) have been backpacking around Australia, but their plans exceed their budget. The girls take up work at the remote Royal Hotel, an Outback bar roughly a million miles from nowhere and frequented by a rough assortment of local alcoholics and miners. The bar’s owner, Billy (Hugo Weaving), himself one of the local drunks, is a crude, generally unpleasant man with a noncommittal attitude to paying his staff – and he’s the least of their problems. While Liv is enjoying the coarse, rowdy atmosphere, Hanna has begun to notice behavior from some of the patrons that gives her pause. Liv brushes off Hanna’s concerns, but it’s starting to look like the girls have gotten themselves into something they won’t be able to get back out of…

Set as it is in a bar, you can expect a good deal of alcohol consumption in this film, and that’s indeed what you get. Characters bypass regular social drinking and cruise straight on into bad, messy, sloppy, make-terrible-decisions-you-won’t-find-out-about-until-morning drunkenness. There is also a great deal of profanity, including that peculiar Australian proclivity for the “C”-word. Chillingly, a constant, oppressive threat of sexual violence permeates the story, so, long story short, this is not a film for young or sensitive viewers.

The Royal Hotel is a difficult film to describe. I liked some aspects – the social commentary, the character studies, the capable management of tension, the cast – but I’m not sure how to feel about the film as a whole. Hanna, the central protagonist, has a bad habit of not telling Liv crucial information, but then being upset with her for arriving at different conclusions based on incomplete knowledge. Not that this is somehow unrealistic human behaviour, but boy is it annoying.

Mostly, the movie feels like a cautionary tale. It’s pretty clear that as a young woman in a foreign country with limited funds, taking a job at a rowdy miner bar hours away from law enforcement or emergency medicine isn’t a great idea. It’s also abundantly clear that there are serious problems with how we as a society view sexual harassment and threatening behaviour, especially when alcohol and money are involved. Good performances and brisk dialogue keep it from feeling preachy, but the film certainly has something to say. Whether or not you can hear it over the drunken yelling is another question.

Directed by Kitty Green. Starring Julia Garner, Jessica Henwick, Hugo Weaving. Running time: 91 minutes. Theatrical release October 6, 2023. Updated

The Royal Hotel
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Royal Hotel rated R? The Royal Hotel is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout and sexual content/nudity

Violence: People are hit or shoved on several occasions, and one person is bitten. Characters are threatened with an ax. Several people are seen involved in a fist fight. Characters commit arson.
Sexual Content: There are frequent instances of crude sexual language. Many scenes contain either outright sexual harassment or the unspoken threat of sexual violence. A woman flashes patrons at a bar, although the camera is positioned behind her so little is seen. A picture of a topless woman is briefly seen several times.
Profanity: There are 100 uses of various sexual expletives, 14 scatological curses, and regular use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking and smoking nearly constantly, with themes of severe alcohol abuse and addiction. Characters are briefly seen smoking marijuana.

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Related home video titles:

Another dusty, dangerous Outback town can be found in The Dry, and some more Australian crime in The Stranger.

Films about women countering sexual aggression include She Said, Bombshell, Moxie, and Promising Young Woman.