The Reel: 28 Hotel Rooms
Note: This movie critic contain spoilers
28 Hotel Rooms is a subtle master piece. By sticking to a single type of location, which are hotel rooms, and two actors, director and writer Matt Ross was able to tell us a lot more about the life of the two characters that we will call the woman and the man. The characters are played by Marin Ireland and Chris Messina. The movie tells the story of a novelist and an accountant who meet while they are traveling for work, and though they both are in relationships, their one-night stand develops into something more at the same time as their relationships at home develop into something more as well.
Sure I hoped the movie will show the woman and the man in their daily lives back at home. I hoped to see her interact with her husband to figure out if she loved him or not. I hoped to see her expressions as she lies to her husband about the work conferences she goes to. I hoped to see how her face lights up or doesn’t when she is told she is going to another conference. I hoped to see the man get married, and lie to his wife when he tells her he loves her. I hoped to meet the poor woman who married him. I hoped to see remorse on his face, and so much more. After a good moment of hoping I realized that it wasn’t necessary to watch these moments. The interaction between the two characters was so intense, true, real, and revealed so much about all those imaginary scenes that were not part of the movie. I also came to eventually understand that the intentions of the Matt Ross was to make us feel empathy for this adulterous couple, and to make us love them together as a couple. The only way to do that quickly was to not include their real lives and the people who are part of them, and mention them occasionally, making it seems like they were the intruders.
One question that repeatedly came to my mind was; “Is this what cheaters do?” Not just any cheaters. Those who have fallen in love with someone else and keep cheating with the same person only to get more and more emotionally pulled, to eventually fall in love with them. 28 Hotel Rooms shows you the evolution of the extramarital affair of these two individuals; an affair that only takes place in hotel rooms; 28 Hotel rooms to be exact. It first starts as a one-night stand that is evidently purely physical. Their second encounter was unexpected and out of the blue, but from then on it becomes a regular thing; a relationship. Eventually the guy falls in love with her, and wants to share information about their lives; just like all the things I had hoped the movie would show about their real lives. In a failed attempt to not get emotionally involved the woman refuses to share any information. Marin Ireland does a great job at making you question her feelings for the man. The moment the “honey moon phase” ends, and they start arguing and fighting about what normal couples argue about was a confirmation to me that she does indeed love him. Probably not as much as he does, but you can see that the emotional turmoil of the affair is not easy on her either, and it gets all the more complicated when her marriage advances to the next level of life.
There is an obvious connection between the two. These two seem like they belong together; but at the same time they only know each other within the 4 walls of a hotel room. They might have great chemistry in those rooms, without any direct outside influence, but it doesn’t mean that things will remain the same if they attempted to take their affair out in the daylight. At the end of the day how much do they really know about each other when they only see each other a couple times a year confined to a hotel room. They know what they like to order at a hotel for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But do they know what they actually eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis?
After many years of living this relationship, this double life, they finally decide to leave their spouses and be together. You see them sitting in a hotel room, full of emotions. He has always been clear and sure about the fact that he wants her and only her. She’s the one who has always been on the fence. They make that decision, it’s heartfelt. For a second I believe them; I believe her. Then I realize that he’s telling the truth, but just like me he knows that she’s not, and they’ll probably continue this affair until they can no longer do it. Plus I simply don’t believe her.
Notice how I used the term “honey moon phase” earlier. You first see them as two adulterers, and mentally brand them with the scarlet letter, but somehow that changes, and you start to see them as a couple going through good times and bad times. You start empathizing with them even if you don’t want to. Especially for the man who wanted her to leave her husband for him before he himself got into a loveless marriage. Someway somehow Ross was able to shift the empathy of the viewer from the true victims, the spouses, to the man and the woman, and I eventually felt bad for sympathizing and rooting for these two cheaters.
- Do you think there is ever a situation where cheating is ok or comprehensible?
- The man let the woman pretty much dictate his love life. He loved her, let her know, but she wasn’t willing to leave her husband for him. Eventually he got married knowing he loved the woman, and found himself in the same situation as the woman. Could you love someone so much that you’ll let them dictate your love life, essentially keep hoping and waiting for them?
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