Fairly Light Film Noir Ensemble…

Writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez has been someone whose films I tend to try to watch whenever possible, especially when it’s anything in a genre I happen to particularly like. Film Noir, with its tinkly pianos; sexy dames; trench-coated angular-jawed leads, is a genre I’ve watched over the years and expected hard-boiled action as a matter of course, but was slightly let down with Hotel Noir, given the fine cast and actual storytelling possibilities. It might be presumptuous of me to expect great entertainment but this type of film can normally simply be watched for what it is.

Hotel Noir
Written & Directed by
Sebastian Gutierrez
Rufus Sewell, Malin Akerman, Danny DeVito, Carla Gugino, Rosario Dawson, Robert Forster
Release Date
9 October 2012
Ed’s Grade: B-

Hotel Noir tells the story of Felix (Rufus Sewell) a cop, smitten by the beautiful Swedish Mary (Malin Akerman), a suspect he’s supposed to be keeping tabs on. After saving her from an overdose, Felix ends up stealing money from a bunch of crooks to go on the run with her, but ends up being stood up. Felix goes to a hotel where we meet a host of interesting characters whose stories each intertwine in one form or another to create a tale of murder and intrigue. It starts off very interestingly with one of my all-time favorite actors, the diminutive Danny DeVito, playing shower-door salesman, Eugene Portland. Eugine is basically telling us the story by introducing us to his sad life, where he is being hit upon by bored housewives, of which I found extremely funny. This is where DeVito is master, and watching Eugine try to get over the fact that this gorgeous housewife has told him her cheating husband gave her nineteen orgasm on their honeymoon and is now asking him to “ravish” her. He asks her how long the honeymoon lasted and she innocently asks him “why? Three days.”

From there, a variety of characters are introduced, like the stunning Rosario Dawson, who breezes through the film dressed in a sexy superhero costume. We then meet another stunner, the curvaceous Carla Gugino, playing a singer in need of redemption, Hanna Click. Hanna’s jealous ex-boyfriend, Vance, was memorably played by Kevin Connolly, whose performance was my favorite out of the entire ensemble, which was surprising considering what he was up against, but credit to him for bringing something extra to Hotel Noir. Robert Forster played Felix’s happily married partner, and Swedish born Akerman’s aptly named Swedish Mary is the dame who steals Felix’s heart.

Akerman and Gugino have appeared in Gutierrez’s films before however Gugino could be more considered a regular in the directors movies. Gutierrez shot Hotel Noir in only 15 days with a budget of a mere $300 thousand, which I think he’s managed rather well. When this fact is taken into consideration you can easily overlook certain shortcomings where the script is concerned. We have dance routines and songs being sung in a smoky nightclub; hard-edged cops; seedy underworld figures; stolen loot and loads of noir style to drink in. Some of the arcs were less enjoyable than others but all were great for the Film Noir junkie inside of us, with the expected bittersweet ending to round the experience off.

Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer

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