The Royal Hotel: Is the Movie Based on a Real-Life Experience?

Image Credit: Neon

‘The Royal Hotel’ is an Australian thriller film directed by Kitty Green, starring Julia Garner, Jessica Henwick, and Hugo Weaving in the lead roles. The movie follows Hanna and Liv, two backpackers on a trip who accept to work as barmaids in a remote Australian mining town when they desperately need cash. However, a scary situation unfolds when they experience the town’s culture and find themselves objectified by the unsavory bar patrons. Given the film’s efforts to realistically capture the fear women face, particularly because of unruly behavior from men in the small town, viewers must be curious to learn about the inspiration behind the story. If you are looking for answers about the true events and incidents that shaped ‘The Royal Hotel,’ here is everything you need to know!

The Inspiration Behind The Royal Hotel

‘The Royal Hotel’ is partially based on a true story. The film is loosely inspired by the 2016 documentary film ‘Hotel Coolgardie‘ directed by filmmaker Pete Gleeson. The screenplay for the feature film was penned by Kitty Green and Oscar Redding, with the former also serving as the director. The original documentary captures the real experiences of Stephanie, aka Steph, and Nicolina, aka Lina, two backpackers who work as barmaids in the remote mining town of Coolgardie in Western Australia, near Perth. However, the women experience grueling circumstances because of the town’s culture, which is rooted in sexism and objectifies them.

Image Credit: Neon

The feature film directed by Kitty Green borrows its basic premise from the documentary as it follows two backpacking women who arrive to work at a pub in a remote Australian small town. However, the film fictionalizes the real events and makes several changes to the source material that deviate it from reality. For instance, the women’s names are changed to Hanna and Liv. In reality, the women were from Finland, while the movie depicts Hanna and Liv as Canadian. Steph and Lina were robbed during their trip, which forced them to accept the job of barmaids in Coolgardie. However, in the movie, Hanna and Liv simply run out of cash. The name of the hotel where the women worked was also changed from Denver City Hotel to The Royal Hotel, likely to avoid legal complications.

In an interview with Indie Wire, Green revealed she saw the original documentary while on a film festival jury and felt it was an interesting jumping-off point for a screenplay. “I’d never seen the Outback represented in that way,” she said, “through this female lens. I thought that was fresh,” Green stated. Green said that she wanted to explore the cultural clash that would happen in this scenario when American women were placed in this environment with problematic behavior from men. “It’s about alcohol-fueled aggression, that behavior that, when left unchecked, can spiral into something quite terrible. And the film is about what we tolerate, what we permit, what we put up with as women in those situations,” Green added.

In another interview with the New York Times, Green stated that her grandfather owned a pub like the one in the film, which allowed her to draw from personal experiences while writing the screenplay. Green also revealed that she intentionally left the backstory of the main characters out of the screenplay as she did not want to make a rape-revenge thriller. As a result, Green focused on depicting the tension between the women and the bar’s male patrons over violence that could occur in such circumstances. While speaking to Slant Magazine, Green also touched upon the movie’s primary themes and message. “I was trying to make a film about strength and friendship. They definitely encounter some dark things along the way. But ultimately, I wanted them to walk away not as winners but alive at least,” Green said.

Ultimately, ‘The Royal Hotel’ is loosely based on the true story captured in Pete Gleeson’s documentary ‘Hotel Coolgardie.’ However, the movie takes a fictional route in exploring some of the ideas and scenarios, particularly the cultural clash that drives the documentary. Moreover, director Kitty Green tackles the subject of female safety and sexism in the context of the Australian Outback culture from the perspective of two outsiders, Liv and Hanna. While the characters are based on real-life figures in the source material, they are more fictional than real because of the differences between the film and the documentary. Hence, ‘The Royal Hotel’ is a fictional tale of the survival of two women who face unacceptable behavior and find the strength to stand up for themselves.

Read More: Best Female-Centric Movies of the 2010s