The Night Clerk – 2020

Written and Directed by Michael Cristofer
Starring Tye Sheridan, Ana de Armas, John Leguizamo, Helen Hunt, Johnathon Schaech

Bart Bromley (Sheridan) is working as a night clerk at a hotel. He’s somewhere on the spectrum. He’s also go camera access in many places. I am not sure if this is known by others in the hotel. There seems to be some awareness in both of these. His access is replicated at home. Due to this, he sees the beginnings of a crime taking place. He drives back to work and ends up in the room somewhere around the time a shot rings out. While a coworker calls the police, we see Bart frantically trying to retrieve a memory card, which ultimately is lost in the crevice of a the carpet.

Enter Detective Espada (Leguizamo). As he investigates the case, he interviews Bart and things being as they are, Bart ends up explaining a bit too much about the blood on his hand and shirt. He’s curious about blood. And…now he’s a suspect.

His mother Ethel (Hunt) confronts the detective, takes her son home, then tries to communicate with him. He leans down to offer his head for her to touch. The pain in her expression based on his lack of expression is remarkable. He’s in there somewhere, she knows it.

Turns out the cameras are Bart’s connection to the world. He is able to replay encounters over and over, turning them over in his mind. He tries to smooth the awkwardness in his conversations. It’s not until he meets Andrea (de Armas) that he finally is able to meet someone who understands who Bart is, and from where he is coming. Now she’s in trouble.

There are aspects of The Night Clerk that make little sense. There is a discovery of cameras in the room where the murder happens, and yet no one has bothered to give Bart a suspension with pay while they figure out his connection to this. Instead, Bart’s in another Hotel, with more cameras in more hotel rooms.

Inconsistencies battle with good performances by Hunt, Sheridan, de Armas and Leguizamo. The mystery is really not a mystery, and Cristofer wisely attempts to have the cast push its way through the plot’s morass. There is not enough for them to act against, though.

I am unsure what Cristofer is going for here. His attempts at connecting to Sheridan’s character through his mother and his prospective love is hamstrung. Bart has little connection to his mother at first. This will barely change.

Bart knows who the bad guy is from the first. Yes, there’s a wall between Bart and his ability to communicate that truth. Anyone who’s seen Schaech since every movie since That Thing You Do! will know he’s not innocent and his character should always be jailed as a precaution.

de Armas has the best chance to make a connection here. The moment between Andrea and Bart with the gate between talking about a broken heart is nice. Like the stuff between Hunt and Sheridan, though, it feels foreign to the events.

As for Sheridan, its hard to watch this film and not think of the plethora of films to come before it, from Rain Main right up until Tropic Thunder, when Robert Downey, Jr.’s Kirk Lazarus blew the lid off of actors playing part of the spectrum. Sheridan would have been a child when the latter came out. There’s no getting around the fact that this type of character walks a thin line. It’s hard to just turn the spectrum into a plot point.

If anyone seeks satisfaction of knowing they get the right guy in the end, one word that might help our understanding of the justice to be metered out is “inadmissible.”

This film is mainly of interest if you like the players. I got it right after watching Knives Out for the third time and discovering that Hunt had a part. They didn’t save it for me. This movie shouldn’t really be watched, unless you just want to help pay some royalties to people you like.

(* out of *****)

2 Comments »

  1. The premise seems interesting. Shame they couldn’t have handled the execution better. I intended to watch it, but my TV time is too scarce to waste on stinkers when I get a chance to sit.

    You just saved me from kicking myself for the next week.

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