The first feature from writer/director Matt Ross, this film tells the story of two people carrying out an affair in, 28 different hotel rooms. She (Marin Ireland) is married and, for the most part, he (Chris Messina) has a partner, but they can’t shake their connection, keeping them coming back for more. The chapter headings are the hotel rooms in which they carry out their affair and while no timeline is explicit, events lead you to think it’s just short of a decade.
The man is a liberal writer from the east coast, while the woman is a much more conservative banker from the west. Fundamentally very different, their relationship starts off as a casual, no strings attached sexual encounter, but soon turns into something much more complex. There is no background information given about the characters (we aren’t even privy to their names), as none of that stuff is the important in their closed off world in the rooms of the hotels they inhibit.
Their relationship brings up endless important questions about who they are and what they want from each other, or in their lives in general. Not a lot of these questions are answered, but we gain an insight into some of their motivations and why they would continue such a deceitful affiliation.
There is a lot of emotion and character progression in play with several ups and downs, moments of banality as well as excitement, where you see just how much the couple keep each other going. A lot of the time love isn’t simple, it often comes with baggage and it’s what we do next that really determines the people we are and how we live our lives.
For a film where the two central characters are cheating on their spouses, it surprisingly has very little to no moral compass. It ignores those left behind and focuses on the two people we have in front of us. Their relationship creates a web of lies and an intense connection further complicated by a few life-changing events, but still the couple cannot let go of each other.
There is no scenery, no props, nothing but two actors in a room giving very convincing performances requiring them to reach both ends of a wide spectrum of emotion.
28 Hotel Rooms is an interesting concept, a very close character study and an overall relatable story. Sadly missing out on a release in Australian cinemas, it is a very subtle, yet stimulating film that really hits home.
28 Hotel Rooms is out on DVD now through Hopscotch Films.