Review by Camden Ferrell
Gun and a Hotel Bible is the newest movie from directors Raja Gosnell and Alicia Joy LeBlanc. It is based on a play of the same name and is written by Bradley Gosnell and Daniel Floren. While the dialogue-heavy script is well-done, the other aspects of the film don’t do much to elevate the experience.
In this film, Pete is a man on the verge of committing an act of violence. He goes to a hotel room beforehand and encounters Gideon, a personified hotel bible. There, he has a thorough discussion with Gideon about morality, scripture, and their own shortcomings. It’s an interesting premise that may sound daft but is surprisingly written with adept maturity.
The highlight of this film is its script. Written by co-stars, Gosnell and Floren, this film is heavy in dialogue and not much else. This is the be expected from an adaptation of a play, and it ultimately works in the film’s favor. It abandons gimmicks and flashiness in order to create an environment that facilitates the earnest discussion between the two characters. The script frequently waxes philosophically, and it manages to remain engaging throughout its brief runtime.
The acting in the film is passable more than anything. Gosnell and Floren aren’t miraculous with their own script, but they definitely do not bring it down either. It’s about as adequate of a performance you can expect, and even though the performances are fairly unobjectionable, they don’t particularly contribute the final products quality. Their chemistry is decent, but there are moments where the acting can come off as somewhat bland.
The direction of the scenes is also very boilerplate. The movie doesn’t feel like it has its own unique character. The blocking of the actors maintains energy and motion on screen, but the rest of the execution plays it safely and predictably. It does a great job of cohesively capturing the action onscreen, but it lacks a distinct personality.
The film’s runtime is a double-edged sword. Running at fifty-eight minutes, the film never loses any steam or momentum, but it also suffers from a story that progresses far too quickly. I believe the film could have benefitted from an additional fifteen minutes to explore the character’s more and their own beliefs and motivations.
More than anything, this film is a feat in conversational dialogue. Its religious discussions don’t break new ground, but it still has some great insights into scripture, its validity, and its contradictions. The dichotomy between the well-informed and skeptic Pete and Gideon, the literal word of the Lord, is interesting and it creates some great moments of moral conflict.
Gun and a Hotel Bible probably works better as a play than a film. The script is very well-written, and it contains some great exchanges and interactions, but everything else in the film is mostly forgettable. The film shows great promise for Gosnell and Floren as a writing duo, and they may be worth keeping on your radar in the future.
Gun and a Hotel Bible is available on VOD January 5.