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USA 2012
Directed by
Matt Ross
82 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

28 Hotel Rooms

A successful first-time novelist (Chris Messina) and a business analyst (Marin Ireland) have a one-night stand but they form an attachment and  they continue to meet in a series of hotel room assignations over the years.  

One can admire the formal idea behind writer-director Matt Ross’s film - that of telling the story of a relationship through a series of episodic encounters  - but at the end of the day it is too flimsy or fragmented a premise to achieve its goal.  The problem is that. unlike Frédéric Fonteyne’s Une Liaison Pornographique, which similarly had two people meeting for a sexual encounter in a string of hotel room, Ross makes the tension between the affair and the real world (both have partners) part of the story but then does not let the latter become a tangible part of it.

Whilst the film does achieve a certain poignancy in capturing the dilemma of two people who only experience love in a strangely suspended state of an illicit encounter and who are tempted by wanting more, Ross keeps their “real” lives too neatly compartmentalized and the assignations, despite the attempt to introduce some dramatic texture, simply become variations of their predecessors rather than developing into something with a life of its own.

Exactly how two people can cheat on their partners for so long is never addressed, nor for that matter, on a purely pragmatic level, how the writer in particular can manage to fly around the country for these brief encounters (a comparable situation in Up In The Air had a more credible outcome).

As an idea 28 Hotel Rooms has appeal but as a portrait of a real relationship it doesn’t convince.




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