The Night Clerk is a crime/mystery/drama movie written and directed by Michael Cristofer and starring Tye Sheridan, Ana de Armas and Helen Hunt.
… are we supposed to feel bad?
The weirdest thing about this movie is that writer and director Michael Cristofer tries to make us feel sympathetic for the voyeur who is secretly recording the guests in the hotel he works at. He tells us that he watches the people to learn how that behave, since having Asperger’s makes it difficult for him to be social. The excuse is true, because he do see Bart practice talking by watching these tapes. However, let’s not kid ourselves into feeling bad for the voyeur, because that’s still a pretty gross thing to do.
The Night Clerk follows Bart, a man who suffers from Asperger’s, who has handy little cameras all over his hotel which he uses to creepily spy on his guests. However, this backfires when he accidentally witnesses a murder being committed and then becomes a suspect in the investigation.
Although the movie is supposed to be a thriller, there’s not much that goes on that keeps you intrigued. You’d be able to figure out the perpetrator of the crime and all the subsequent twists because they’re extremely obvious and The Night Clerk doesn’t try to hide any of its cards.
I think the movie could’ve benefitted had it tried to be a drama instead of a thriller. The murder aspect of the movie is all but forgotten half of the time and comes back sometimes as an afterthought. Additionally, the director probably added the Asperger’s part of it just so that we’d feel some sort of pity for the main character and so that he can be placed as a voyeur without it being absolutely horrendous. Spoiler: it’s still pretty gross.
The narrative is also pretty messy, with plots and characters coming and going and amounting to nothing. Most of the characters don’t have much to do, especially the cop and the cheating husband.
Honestly, it’s a shame because The Night Clerk hosts a bunch of good actors, especially Tye Sheridan and Ana de Armas. If you’ve seen Ana de Armas in Knives Out, you’d remember how good she was in the movie. With such a lacklustre script as this one, Armas shines as the woman with not-so-good intentions. Same for Sheridan’s Bart. Both of them are convincing, and their chemistry lovely. I, honestly, would be happy to check out a movie on these two, without them adding the unnecessary murder.
I was hoping for a twist ending that wouldn’t be something as cliched as the one we got – you know, maybe she falls for him, maybe they run off, actually anything other than the one we got. However, no such luck. It’s pretty lazy and unsatisfying, and it’s a shame because it just feels amateurish and a repetition of the movies that we’ve seen too often before this.
Summing up: The Night Clerk
Although the movie might tell you otherwise, it’s not possible to feel pity for a voyeur regardless of what he might be suffering from. There’s a scene in The Night Clerk where Andrea tells Bart that she had a brother who had a developmental disability too, telling him that he’s now dead. It’s a totally unnecessary addition, one that feels forced, and just makes you feel icky because it’s just not genuine and neither does it play into the plot. Are we supposed to feel bad for her as well? I don’t know.
However, with that being said, it’s Tye Sheridan and Ana de Armas who make this somewhat bearable. Their chemistry and (sometimes) heart-touching moments make this a not-so-horrible treat.
The Night Clerk is streaming on Netflix.
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