Film & Television

John Maguire on film: Exploration of toxic masculinity in Australia backs itself into a corner

Tension created by rising threat of sexual violence against young bar workers descends into claustrophobic melodrama

The Royal Hotel, starring Julia Garner as Hannah, left, and Jessica Henwick as Liv

Kitty Green’s 2019 debut The Assistant was the first film to address the then still-unfolding Harvey Weinstein scandal by turning the experiences of a PA to a powerful movie producer into a nauseating workplace horror.

Reunited with her lead Julia Garner, Green’s follow-up, The Royal Hotel, again turns an everyday employment setting into a slow-burning examination of toxic masculinity and incipient violence, far from the world of show business in the Australian outback.

Co-written with Oscar Redding, and owing a debt to Ted Kotcheff’s cult 1971 thriller Wake in Fright, Green’s film tells how a pair of American backpackers are subjected to emotional, psychological and physical abuse when they take short-term jobs as bar workers in a remote mining town.