28 Hotel Rooms, One Complicated Affair
A man (Chris Messina) and a woman (Marin Ireland) encounter one another in a hotel cafe and stumble into an extended love affair. Their story, told entirely through the titular conceit of 28 short vignettes, becomes increasingly complicated as their personal lives develop outside of their relationship, and yet simultaneously they become more emotionally entrenched with one another. It's a tightly focused portrait that relies heavily on the naturalistic performance of the two lead actors, who are also the only credited actors in the entire film, so you're going to be seeing a lot of them. In fact, you're going to be seeing almost all of them at several points throughout the film, before the weight of their angst starts to encumber their lovemaking.
The hotels, within which their relationship is required to exist, are at first a playground for the two but inevitably become a prison, and the sterility of the rooms is drawn in sharp contrast against the traded fantasies of a shared life on the outside. Just the look of a hotel coffee mug sometimes can be the most depressing thing in the world, as a bleak morning light shines on it through those long, weird, dangling vertical blinds. And yet intimate moments happen in these spaces, intimate drinks shared from those mugs, and a failure of decisive action from either party allows this existence in limbo to be drawn out, through both of their marriages and the birth of a child.
Throughout all of this, the characters' vulnerabilities and fears are on full display and drive the film's most moving moments: the emotional gambits, the double-blind second-guessing, the free-floating frustration. As Messina's character yells, nakedly, from a hotel roof, "It's a fucking puzzle, help me put it together."