Those familiar with writer/ director Sebastian Gutierrez work know that probably the best thing about his films are the actors in them. This one contains his Carla Gugino, who has seemingly been in most of his films; Rosario Dawson; Danny DeVito; Michael B. Jordan, in a small role; and actress Malin Akerman. Combined, I wouldn't say this film is as interesting as previous efforts like Girl Walks Into a Bar or even the Elektra Luxx series, but more so Gutierrez experimenting with his style.
Characters & Story
The featured characters of the film include Felix (played by Rufus Sewell) who is a cop who fell in love with the film's damsel in distress Mary (played by Malin Akerman); and they share the focus of the film with Eugene (played by Danny DeVito) a traveling shower door salesman; Hannah (played by Carla Gugino) a touring lounge singer; Sevilla (played by Rosario Dawson) the hotel's maid, and seemingly a prostitute; and the last person worth mentioning is Felix's partner Jim (played by Robert Forster) a man who you don't really take note of at first, but ends up waking Felix from his dream.
As for the story as a whole, the main story deals with Hannah speaking with Felix who talks about the last few days, weeks, or perhaps months, of his life. He fell in love with a dancer named Mary, a girl caught up with some bad people, who he has sacrificed a lot for, and is willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to have a happy ending for. Meanwhile, Hannah has her own issues with a crappy man in her life who has a complex about the way Felix looks at her, and seems to go to Sevilla in order to work out his frustrations. Leading to an film which at first seems like a big disjointed mess, but eventually all stories find a way to meet and make it so that the knot it untied and everything ends making sense.
When it comes to Hotel Noir, I must admit that it doesn't have a lot of things which stand out worth praising. I will admit that I was glad to see Carla Gugino in something, and she does an alright job as Hannah, but even though she probably was the best in the film, it wasn't saying much. One thing though, which I will admit was good about the film is that somewhere within the 2nd half, after introductions and tedious dialog, it somehow became interesting.
But there lies the problem. Though not as pretentious as The Counselor, when it comes to dialog, it can get just as boring at times. Being that this is a crime drama, Gutierrez doesn't employ his usual humor and dialog and tries to make things a bit more serious to fit the tone, due to this, the film for the first half feels a bit like a drag. I attribute this mostly because Gugino and Sewell just don't make the best of scene partners, and while Sewell has the look for a noir film star, he doesn't have the charisma to really draw you in and make you care, nor does his love interest Akerman.
Perhaps, another issue worth noting, is that the story isn't really the most appealing either. For anyone who has taken a basic film study course, with a focus on genres, it seems the focus of the film was just checking off what are the requirements to call your film a noir. Make it in Black & White: Check; have a cop: check; make sure to have a damsel in distress: check; make sure to include backstabbing: check; and it seems once those elements were met, those involved just winged the rest of it.
Overall: TV Viewing
If this so happens to come on TV, or hopefully online like Girl Walks Into A Bar, I would say it would be worth watching. Is it the best thing I've ever seen? Far from it, but it is good enough for a lazy Sunday, or just background noise for a nap. The music is easy on the ears, and there is, sadly, only a few bits of action which could probably wake you up. Otherwise, the story is dull enough to not make you feel like you are missing anything and, after watching it straight through, I can definitely say that unless you are a fan of someone involved, skipping this movie altogether isn't the hugest of losses.