This Depression-era road movie tails teen runaway Kate (Greer Robson) as she tags along with World War I veteran Patrick (Aussie actor Peter Phelps) — himself on the run after assaulting a repo man. The odd couple relationship grudgingly evolves as they oft-narrowly escape the law and head north across the southern badlands. Director Sam Pillsbury's on the lam tale won wide praise, with Kevin Thomas in the LA Times calling it "pure enchantment". Robson's award-winning turn as the scamp followed up her breakthrough role in Smash Palace.
Starlight Hotel is pure enchantment, a perfect blending of cast, setting and story that brings to mind the visual impact of Days of Heaven. It’s one of the finest New Zealand films to date... It is one of those pictures that sneaks up on you unannounced and steals your heart.– Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, 13 August 1988