DVD REVIEW: ‘White Lotus’ finds all the drama (and comedy) a hotel could offer | Movies
BRUCE R. MILLER
If you happen to hear “The White Lotus” called out multiple times at Monday’s Emmy Awards, don’t be surprised.
The limited run was a great way to keep the fires burning during various COVID lockdowns.
Set in a luxury resort in Hawaii, history comes to life when three groups arrive at Lotus.
When these discerning customers realize what they have – or don’t have – the manager, Armond, must move on to damage control.
The comedy comes from his desire to give them a “Fantasy Island” experience; the drama comes from their determination to have it.
Written by Mike White, the six-part series only reveals its main theme when everyone is settled in their rooms. Then it becomes clear: this is a look at the ultra-rich and how they really don’t look like us at all.
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For starters, there’s a honeymoon couple, Shane and Rachel Patton (Jake Lacey and Alexandra Daddario), who aren’t happy with the suite they’ve been given. It is not the one pictured online and there is no plunge pool. Ever since his mom booked the reservation, he’s been determined to get him stung.
Then there is the Mossbacher family. Nicole (Connie Britton) is a successful executive; her husband, Mark (Steve Zahn), is a wreck because he thinks he has cancer. To add to the problem: two bored kids and their college-aged daughter’s friend.
Add Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge), a lonely bachelor who wants to scatter her mother’s ashes, and you see these are people with emotional issues that money can’t solve.
The fun, however, is in Armond’s effort. Played by Murray Bartlett, he is an always smiling wreck, who exudes confidence while hiding contempt.
Taking place over a week, the limited series shows just how miserable life can be in any setting. Shane insists on housing; Nicole questions her husband’s fidelity; Tanya gives a spa employee false hope.
Although much of the action takes place in the restaurants and rooms, there is plenty to savor. The Mossbachers’ daughter, Olivia (Sydney Sweeney), is about as obnoxious as the sophomores. She plays with her friend (Brittany O’Grady), who doesn’t share her lifestyle, and thwarts her so-successful mother whenever she tries to pretend life is good. She scores with simple looks and makes you feel sorry for her brother, Quinn (Fred Hechinger), who enjoys the stay more than anyone.
White uses sly humor throughout the series and gets his best results from Bartlett, which unfolds in an unusual way. He captures the manager’s approach beautifully and has a lot of fun getting revenge.
“White Lotus” benefits from the desire to be inclusive of the one percenters. Coolidge gets the best shot at this, but Britton has his moment after a luau party.
When her world is falling apart, you can see why Olivia isn’t afraid to call her out on anything.
Now available on DVD, “The White Lotus” has a lot to explore. It’s like being on vacation without leaving home.