Eye For Film >> Movies >> Gun And A Hotel Bible (2019) Film Review
Gun And A Hotel Bible
Reviewed by: Stephanie Brown
Raja Gosnell and Alicia Joy LeBlanc’s Gun and A Hotel Bible, based on the original play Gun and a Motel Bible by screenwriters and stars Bradley Gosnell and Daniel Floren, dissects and analyses the meaning of morality through religious abstraction, and Christian doctrines. What begins as an academic debate between theological conflictions quickly descends into the problems of faith through moments of nihilism.
A young man named Pete experiences a crisis of faith when he plans to murder his adulterous girlfriend by checking into the same hotel, armed with a gun, an impulsive plan and self-doubt. Pete’s plan comes to a halt when the personification of his hotel bible, a man named Gideon, tries to talk him round from the act he’s about to commit.
It’s always interesting to see how texts are adapted from theatre onto the screen. From Una to the excellent Ma Raimey’s Black Bottom in the past decade, there is a lot that can be done to ease the transition and keep the heart of the stage at the core. What really helps Gun And A Hotel Bible to be reborn as a screenplay is the strength of the writing - with captivating themes of morality and existentialism within religious contexts, there is an element of Dostoevsky in modernity that helps to channel and control the enigmatic and philosophical messages throughout the film.
The problem, however, stems from the technical aspects of the production. Not so much in the sense that they’re jarring and problematic, but more that it’s difficult to pin-point what bringing the play to the screen adds to its general effect. There are few shots that exist outside the hotel room the story is centred in, and with the entire production taking place in this one location it begs the question to whether it may have lost more than it gained from changing the format. There is also a repetitiveness to the way Pete drifts in and out of these dialogues with Gideon that lose the sense of dissociation that would be guided more clearly by the lights and design of the theatre.
Gosnell and Floren’s screenplay is certainly worthy of merit, both academic and emotive in its discourse of ontology, but it seemed to fail to break the fourth wall behind the lens. The themes at the centre of Gun And A Hotel Bible leave the spectator with much to ponder over, but the camera can only capture the edges of the narrative, where many will be waiting at the screen for more than the film can offer.Reviewed on: 06 Jan 2021