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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Hotel Loneliness

The Night Clerk (2020) on IMDb

Plot Overview

photographerAt age 23 Bart Bromley (Tye Sheridan) is on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum. He works the night shift, 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., at the Hamilton Hotel some­where in suburban Utah. It's the off season now and says his coworker, “We're pretty empty.” He monitors the occupants through his surveillance devices in their rooms for the purpose of picking up social skills—man, he needs them.

computer disksOne night blonde Karen Perretti (Jacque Gray) in room 124 engages in “rough stuff” with a shadowy married man and is shot dead. The police recover one surveillance chip that shows nothing but feet, but the gun is gone and so is the clan­des­tine cell phone. The other four camera chips don't reveal the killer's face, either, but there's a distinguishing tattoo of a raven on his right arm. Bart is a scavenger like the raven. He took the four remaining chips with him.

Rather than fire Bart who is now a suspect, management moves him to a gig at the Mercer Hotel also in their chain giving him the same position, same shift, “same every­thing”—under­statement of the year. He now has under surveillance beautiful brown-haired Andrea Rivera (Ana de Armas) who warms up to him in midnight conversations when she is not enter­taining her long-standing lover who sports the same raven tattoo on his right arm. You think autism is “complicated?” Try mixing it with adultery and murder, to say nothing of high technology.

Bart shares with her a working definition of nerd along with its first published use in 1950, Dr. Seuss, If I Ran the Zoo. More apropos to this movie might be “Observer,” 29 May 1988, “And the jock shall dwell with the nerd and the cheer­leader lie down with the wimp and there will be peace on campus.”


Bart is spoken well of by all who know him. (Eccl. 7:1) “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.” Shopping for cologne to impress a lady, Bart asks the sales­woman to come up with one that smells like a magazine picture he shows her. She has to explain to him that photo­graphs do not transmit fragrance. True. In contrast his good name comes through on the finance paper­work for his new car, on what­ever employment application he's submitted (“Bart was a good candi­date for the job”), and on his police record. Evidently his father was a good influence on him, who is remembered now for his passing.

(Eccl. 7:2) “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” This movie is virtually set in “the house of mourning.” Both Bart his mother Ethel Bromley (Helen Hunt) mourn daily for his deceased father, her gone husband (“When your father passed that was very hard.”) Andrea carries with her a sadness for her brother, an “Aspie,” who had passed away after being insti­tutional­ized (“Yes, people die and that's the end.”) Detective Espada (John Leguizamo) of course is pursuing a murder investigation. And the murderer him­self is worried that he not be found out. These are all the main parts there are in the movie, all of them concerned with death. Bart at the end of his shift bought a variety of ice creams for a little private party but made tracks on over to the hotel when he saw mischief brewing on his screen.

(Eccl. 7:3) “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” Bart speaks personally about his lost love, “when it's taken away, you hurt,” and his mom about the loss of his father, “I know there was a lot of pain,” and the detective about his case when Bart made an ill-advised joke, “I'm not laughing.” Bart wanted his trouble­some love interest to, “Fix my heart.” All this death. Maybe some­thing beneficial will accrue, some­thing along the lines of a Mozley sermon:

We are in this world indeed for a short time, but it is in order to educate us for eternity. And this life, short as it is, is long enough for this purpose. Some it is true are taken away early, before indeed their trial commences; but of these we need not here speak. Those who remain, and are tried, have periods of time given them, varying in length as well as in the strength of the trial contained in them, but all affording time and opportunity enough for the purpose of probation. Indeed when people talk of the short­ness of life in the mode just now mentioned, as if it were too short for any serious work to be done in it, they forget first that a very short time is often enough to try a man. Many a man has in one day, nay, in one hour formed a resolution which has altered his whole after­wards. Much may be done in a short time if there is the will to do it. (264–265)

(Eccl. 7:4) “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” As mentioned above, the mom's characterization of Bart's ill-advised state­ment as “a joke” brought a rejoinder from the detective, “You know we have a dead woman here and I think Bart knows some­thing about it and that's why I'm not laughing.”

(Eccl. 7:5-6) “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.” Socially numb Bart was adept at pointing out mundane faults to people who were fat, stupid or too loudly dressed. Maybe they needed to hear it. Whatever. It was the cackling laughter of Karen in her hotel room, which was not going to bring any good from the man she was making fun of.

Production Values

” (2020) was written and directed by Michael Cristofer. It stars Tye Sheridan, Ana de Armas, Helen Hunt, and John Leguizamo. Sheridan was superb as a struggling everyman who happened to have Asperger's syndrome. Leguizamo did a believable detective balancing his job demands with finessing a fragile witness. Hunt is the protective mother who inspires appreciation for all our moms. De Armas is hot enough to make men drool and forget to not trust addicts. She drinks too much, smokes to excess, and is having a “complicated” love affair with a murderous married man. Other than that she's a peach.

MPAA rated it R for language, some sexual references, brief nudity and violent images. The settings are calm and orderly as befits the world of an Aspie, except of course for the B&W surveillance footage of the hotel room tussles and the occasional surprise encounter. There are shots heard (“There was a shot”) off camera causing us to suspect the worst. And there are bloody after­maths shown. One damaged computer screen reminded me of the country song, “Bubba Shot the Jukebox.” Some country songs are so sad what's a bubba to do? The instru­mental back­ground music is gentler than easy listening. If the kid were to emerge from his dark dungeon into the real world, we suspect the music would get more expansive, but don't hold your breath.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I was very impressed by this film. Since the writer was the director he had tight control of his product. If you're squeamish about mental illness or if your mind likes to coast along established ruts, you might want to skip this one. It requires the attention given a mystery and the flexibility of looking at some­thing from odd angles. I liked the challenge, but that might not be what everyone is after.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Mozley D.D., J.B. Sermons Parochial and Occasional. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1880. Print.