‘Lost Girls & Love Hotels’ follows the story of an American expatriate in modern-day Tokyo where she works as an English teacher and constantly tries to escape the demons of her past by pursuing self-destructive hedonistic pleasures. The title of the film literally describes what the movie is all about. It’s about a lost girl trying to find herself in a string of sadomasochistic encounters in seedy pay-by-the-hour love hotels.
Margaret (played by Alexandra Daddario) spends her days teaching English pronunciation to flight attendants and her nights drinking at a local bar with fellow American expats who she ultimately ditches in favor of meaningless one-night-stands. This cycle of self-destructive and reckless behavior (she clearly doesn’t care much about STDs or getting physically harmed by the strangers she takes to bed) goes on till, one day, she meets a charismatic older guy, Kazu, who turns out to be a Yakuza gang member.
Margaret breaks her rule of not sleeping with the same guy twice and keeps meeting Kazu over and over, steadily falling for him. Kazu’s air of authoritative dominance rivets her attention from their very first encounter and they seem to connect at a level deeper than the merely physical. But they both know they cannot be together – he has traditional obligations (he is engaged to marry a Japanese girl chosen by his family) and she is from a different world altogether. ‘Lost Girls & Love Hotels’ is an intriguing, intoxicating exploration of contemporary Tokyo, more so than an impossible love story. But is it based on a true story? You’ve come to the right place for the answer to that question.
Is Lost Girls and Love Hotels Based on a True Story?
No, Lost Girls And Love Hotels is not based on a true story. The film is actually adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same name, authored by Catherine Hanrahan, who also wrote the screenplay of the film. The book itself is said to be a semi-autobiographical account of Catherine’s own time in Japan. The events in the film are very loosely inspired by the author’s own experiences living in Tokyo. The feel of the movie is not touristy at all. Rather, the movie depicts Tokyo as a city that’s lived in. That’s because the author (in real life) and Margaret (in the movie) have both spent a significant amount of time living there. The protagonists and their romance are pure fiction though, Catherine claims.
Even though the film is beautifully made, with just the right amount of subtext and subtleties enhancing the plot and making it more interesting, the character of Margaret does not manage to gain the viewers’ sympathy or even much attention. We are unable to understand why she is living the way she does, what is driving her to keep going down a decidedly reckless path to almost certain ruin, which demons she is running from. There is only a vague, fleeting mention of a broken family but for the most part, Margaret remains a bit of a blank rather than the enigma she should have been. We see the protagonist floundering on the surface but we don’t get a peek at anything deeper to better understand her psyche.
Mostly though, the movie ‘Lost Girls & Love Hotels’ manages to entertain. It’s obviously a bit “50 Shades-esque”, so if you’re into darker romances that deal with complicated human emotions, this will make a good watch for you.
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