A scene from "28 Hotel Rooms." (Handout )
The intimate romantic drama "28 Hotel Rooms" should prove a fine calling card for its first-time writer-director, Matt Ross.
This tender, skillfully performed chamber piece tracks the more than two dozen times — over an indeterminate number of years — a complementary pair of otherwise engaged lovers meet up and bed down across a series of cities and hotel rooms.
It's deeper, warmer and far less tawdry than it might sound as the pair, a jaunty novelist (an appealing Chris Messina) and a circumspect numbers cruncher (Marin Ireland), chance-meet on coincidental business trips, sleep together, then continue the pattern as their out-of-town work commitments intersect.
But what starts as a no strings, low-information fling (she's married, he's got a girlfriend) begets an emotional connection that upends their original expectations, not to mention life plans. The result: a roller coaster of passionate highs and lows between folks who can't commit to each other yet can't call it quits.
Despite the familiar setup, this is no "Same Time, Next Year," what with its hot-sheets trysts, full-frontal flashes and frank language. But the brief — sometimes very brief — encounters glimpsed here between the film's leads and sole characters (billed only as "Man" and "Woman") are inventive and telling.
"28 Hotel Rooms." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. At Sundance Sunset Cinemas, West Hollywood.