Writer / producer / directors Sherng-Lee Huang and Livia Ungur have created a film which is unique in its ambition – combining documentary, mockumentary, musical numbers, fictional recreations and pure surreal whimsy, Hotel Dallas was the longest 75 minute film I’ve ever experienced.
The film is about how in 1980s Romania the only show the people were allowed to watch outside of their own internal propaganda was Dallas – the hit US soap from the 80s where the lives and loves of JR Ewing and his brother Bobby were played out each week on the TV screen. Part commentary on how this show influenced the lives of the children growing up at that time and thereafter perhaps the business man model for post revolutionary Romania, this film explores some interesting ideas on how the world can be perceived through fiction.
It is beautifully shot and some set pieces – children recreating Bobby Ewing’s death scene as well as the execution of the Ceausescus – are fantastic. Within this film there are perhaps 3 short films trying to escape, I could have watched a documentary on the Laughing Cemetery alone; unfortunately the film is not a cohesive whole.
Ungur is an artist first and foremost and this first foray into a feature film would perhaps be better suited as an exhibition in a gallery so the viewer can dip in and out of it as they wish; watching the whole thing in a cinema is a strain.