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Feature Review - Checking In

By midlandsmovies, Aug 12 2014 11:51AM

Checking In

Editor Mike Sales checks out new Midlands feature “Checking In” which has ‘suite’ service in these rooms with more than just a view...

This feature length film is a portmanteau of 5 interlocking stories each directed by a different person covering a 24 hour period in a regional hotel. The conceit works well as we are introduced first to cleaner Radka and her manager Alec who attempt to accommodate the wild and wonderful guests of the story.

With one of the most professional looking “amateur” films I have seen, the film starts with great cinematography and interesting camera angles with a brilliant score by Matthew Calvert (whose music can be found here http://audionic.co.uk/films) whose music helps bind the separate pieces together.

First up are arguing couple Ted and Mary who after 22 years of hellish marriage and attempts to spice up it up spend the morning quarrelling with a constant back and forth. Ted talks about their lack of money but we soon see them indulging in some five-fingered-discounts as they begin to fill their bags with many of their suite’s complimentary commodities including toiletries and bathrobes!

The kleptomania continues as they descend through the hotel corridors before continuing their bedroom bickering at the breakfast table. Finally their taunts and tantrums subside as they grudgingly check out but after spilling their spoils in the lobby the manager catches them and we get a good Mexican standoff at the reception desk. Making their escape Bonnie and Clyde style they run to their car as we segue into the second story of Sally & Tim.

Sally is a singer whose arrogant manager calls “just a girl with guitar” and who appears tired with the plodding circuit and after a haunting performance in the hotel bar, the manager leaves her with just enough money for a taxi home. Deflated after the response from a sparse crowd she then receives the wrong kind of attention from an audience member.

With the seedy offer ringing in her head, Sally looks as though she is about to give up before a young girl thanks her for her show and this segment shows how just touching one person can help you reconsider your priorities and with the sun shining down, the talented Sally heads off with a fresh new outlook.

Section 3 follows Cosplayers Ed and Jenessa who are ready for comic con in their colourful wigs and anime outfits. Their conversation flows from their favourite parts of their idiosyncratic hobby to being yourself and after a chance encounter with some lads at a vending machine, Ed begins to question his motivations. Their shared interests link them together within their “scene” and the two head off feeling like they truly belong with a touching moment on the bed as they hold hands finding a connection they never knew existed.

The men who harass Ed appear again in the next plot as we see an Asian wedding where bride Kalpna is also having a crisis so runs off and into the room of the oriental Ren. Ren is a resident mourning the loss of his own wife and after he meditates with a samurai sword he is interrupted by Kalpna. Seeking sanctuary with the sensei, the crying bride is sought by the angry groom before the drama overspills into a full family feud of shouting and violence. The hotel search ends with a final confrontation with the husband she does not love and the two strangers leave in a taxi with another ‘lady of the night’ for a future neither of them has planned.

The fifth and final segment follows a man coming to terms with his sexuality. Away for work, great actor Connor McKenzy plays Pete – a man with doubts – who meets media student Aaron at the hotel for a homosexual liaison. Pete’s privacy permeates this awkward encounter and is confused owing to the fact he is almost engaged to a girlfriend he no longer has the same feelings for. His infidelity climaxes with a tenderly played love scene but his random fun turns to guilt before Aaron advises, “If you love her let her go and find someone that she needs”.

These secrets and lies and lonely souls are a theme throughout the film’s multiple narratives and we see people finding their connections and giving hope to each other in difficult circumstances. Surreptitious struggles and what happens behind closed doors are symbols occurring in all sections but although many of the characters have doubts and many regrets, the film ends each segment with hope and the promise of a new beginning. Crossing over between the privacy and intimacy of the rooms against the public chaos of the hotel’s more public areas, the film even ends on a high as the manager asks the cleaner for a drink finishing the 24 hours on a light and positive note.

As time passes for the protagonists, the hotel only pauses once for part of the night and the film battles with issues of acceptance, belonging as well as going against the established rules. From checking in to coming out, the different stories have a little something for everyone so make a reservation to see this film soon and I’m sure you would not be disappointed with the service.

8/10 Midlands Movies Mike

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