Monday, February 13, 2012

Sundance: 28 Hotel Rooms

Are relationships, more often than not, starting backwards? Have sex and chemical attraction taken first place in our seeking connection? Are we in a culture that goes straight to the mattresses and then, if that goes well, we develop friendships and possibly love afterwards? Would Darwin like where we are going?

The simple reality is that our fear skyrockets on the chart when we thinking of having to define anything in regards to love. “Whatever this is…Whatever we’re doing here…” is a reoccurring phrase ping-ponged about between my single friends and myself when describing our current and various relationships. Unlike others, however, this phrase doesn’t bother me as it might bother people like my mother who grew up in a world where all things were labeled in nice, tidy, and simple ways. But, when have relationships…when has love…ever been easily defined?

28 Hotel Rooms takes place over an undetermined amount of time (the director mentioned somewhere between three and seven years). Two working professionals on individual business trips meet in a hotel restaurant. They get room #1, sleep together, and then go their separate ways. A few months later, they find themselves both on trips and both in the same city and they decide to share Room #2. What started out as a one-night stand develops into one of the most honest, real, and touching on-screen relationships that I have ever seen. I felt voyeuristic watching the film, but I accepted the feeling and then embraced it. A film lover’s gotta do what a film lover’s gotta do. This was, easily, the best thing I saw at Sundance. With a color palette to match my personality and an understated plot, this film was brilliant.

Duane Byre of the Hollywood Reporter said, “The technical crew's on-the-spot aesthetics are akin to prolonged foreplay:  cinematographer Doug Emmett's compositions and framings strip away any role-play facades.”

That was the magic. I’ll sum it up in one line:

It felt so far removed from acting and so close to living.

I had such a visceral reaction to so many moments. The film is made up of one Man and one Woman. We don’t even know their names. Their names aren’t important—. Their connection is--this deep connection that you want to believe is possible, but you find yourself settling for far less for most of your life.

Why do you settle?

Because you fear it’s not reality?
Because people are incapable of connecting with you on the level you desire? Because people aren’t poetic?
Because it takes work to connect like that?
Because 88% of people don’t know what I’m even talking about?

When was the last time you stayed up all night long laughing, talking, and being real—really, really real—with your lover? Why do relationships maneuver around the simple things—like honest talking—and embrace the more complicated things like jealousy and petulance?

The film covers 28 meetings in 28 hotel rooms. In order. Over a period of time. It’s the most concise summary of the relationship maze I have ever seen. Ups. Downs. Laughs. Cries. And the silences that most of us pretend aren’t there.

28 Hotel Rooms pulls you out of the traditional definitions of love and marriage and connection that you so easily cast about. It breaks away from relationship labels and society’s need to define everything to the last fucking detail (as proven by the Facebook relationship option of “it’s complicated”). These people define nothing. Not really.  Maybe they do it after the camera stops rolling. I don’t care. Because they are two people and they just do not fit a generic definition. I admired this movie. So much. Because, frankly, I’m tired of the definitions and labels I’m offered in this day-to-day world about love and friendship and connection. I don’t want the regular sort of defining. I don’t. And neither did they. We are tired of it. We want to be undefined.

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