REVIEW: ‘The Night Clerk’ is a Non-Pretentious Actor’s Piece

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The Night Clerk

There’s something to be said for simplicity in film. In a landscape of massive budgets, mind boggling effects, and unfurling cinematic universes, a simple story lands like a sigh of relief. Sometimes all you need in a film is the story of two people and the strong performances of the actors portraying them. In this way, The Night Clerk is a tonic. The film gets back to the basics of storytelling: a contained world, the highly emotional journeys of two people, and the strange circumstance that brings them together.

In The Night Clerk, a young and socially challenged hotel clerk witnesses a murder in one of the rooms during his late night shift. His suspicious actions, and the secrets he holds, land him as the lead detective’s number one suspect. Things only get more complicated when a beautiful, mysterious woman enters the young man’s life. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Ana de Armas, and John Leguizamo. This minimalist cast is played to their absolute best advantage under the leadership of writer and director Michael Cristofer.

At its core, The Night Clerk is an actor’s piece. Tye Sheridan does a fantastic job in the role of Bart, the voyeuristic and socially challenged hotel night clerk. The nuance required to make such a socially limited character funny, heartbreaking, and thought provoking takes a lot of skill and Sheridan is absolutely rocking those subtleties. Ana de Armas, as usual, is utterly beguiling and walks this fine line between open warmth and cool distance in her performance. This combination makes for an anti- love story that surprises and seduces.

The Night Clerk

The film’s strong performances fit beautifully into its twisting storyline. The writing in The Night Clerk is touching and quite unique. You’re never quite sure where the plot is going and each small emotional reveal sends the thread tumbling in a new direction. Where does love become betrayal? What morality are we, the audience, meant to follow? The Night Clerk has such moments of humor and sweetness that are then made bitter by the sad and hopeless circumstances of the film. Every scene is daintily assembled and it’s an excellent example of scene craftsmanship.

Perhaps, the one flaw of The Night Clerk can be found in the film’s pacing. The story seems to meander as it ambles along, which wouldn’t be an issue except that the third act feels quite abrupt in its ending. It leaves the viewer wishing for 15 more minutes of runtime, to wrap the story up. That being said, it’s equally true that the film’s abruptness can be a device to illustrate the fickle nature of emotion. It’s a stretch, but I’d allow for that interpretation.

The Night Clerk is quite the refreshing film experience. Full of intrigue and totally engrossing, the film seems to do the very most with the bare essentials. It comes warmly recommended by this critic.

The Night Clerk will open in select theaters, on digital and demand now.

The Night Clerk
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

The Night Clerk is quite the refreshing film experience. Full of intrigue and totally engrossing, the film seems to do the very most with the bare essentials. It comes warmly recommended by this critic.