Saturday, 23 March 2013

28 Hotel Rooms, dir/wr. Matt Ross, st. Chris Messina, Marin Ireland

Like its (possible) namesake - Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, in which a couple's heady and charged string of carnal collisions is played out against the backdrop of the 9 indie gigs they frequent - Matt Ross' 28 Hotel Rooms spins a similar familiar yarn of illicit attraction and urgent Afternoon Delight snatched in the rare moments between the living of habitual lives. Messina and Ireland play an author and corporate jet setter respectively, their work taking them around the country from hotel to hotel where they live out their lives in a twilight world of piano-bar jazz and room service. Flirtation soon gives way to companionship, a salve for their mutual loneliness, before slipping into something altogether more passionate. Before long, the pair are in full-on relationship mode complete with morning routines and fights over who wants what. The danger and inherent catastrophe of relationship within relationship (they both have other halves) is palpable and ludicrous, and yet Messina and Ireland share a genuine chemistry that discharges them from the crime of purposeful unkindness. Practically a total two-hander, the film presents the 28 hotel rooms as not only linear chapters of their evolving relationship, but also as airless five-star clinks; outside the hotel walls, the connection they share is formless and deniable. Only we know that that's not how attraction works. We though, have the benefit of being able to act on it should we choose. What 28 Hotel Rooms lacks in character study, it makes up in process deconstruction, evaluating love as a crippling drug rather than a blissful and controllable state of being, and viewed as a perceptive little one-acter, gives a whole lot of bitter-tasting food for thought.