Published Feb 20, 2020Michael Cristofer, best known for his roles in Smash and Mr. Robot, is behind the director's chair for his first feature since 2001's Original Sin. The Night Clerk follows hotel clerk Bart (Tye Sheridan), the kind of guy many people call weird, even creepy. He lives at home with his mother (Helen Hunt), but stays in the basement. When it's time for dinner, she converses with him through a camera and he watches her eat on a screen in his room. At work, Bart gives off some heavy Norman Bates vibes at first, as he spies on the hotel guests through the hidden cameras he installed in the rooms. And while this may lead to some personal paranoia on the audience's part, it should be a comfort to know that Bart isn't perverse, nor is he weird or creepy. As he explains, he has Asperger's.
People with Asperger's find difficulty in social situations and Bart uses the footage he records to practice what to say and how to behave in those moments of conversation. While spying on hotel guests, he witnesses a confrontation between a wife and her husband that turns violent, and Bart becomes a prime suspect. For the remainder of the film, he's being questioned and investigated by Detective Espada (John Leguizamo). Like most of the people he meets, the detective just sees Bart as a weird, messed up kid, not someone suffering from a developmental disorder.
Due to the investigation, Bart is transferred to another hotel, where he meets and falls for the beautiful Andrea (Ana de Armas).
Truthfully, The Night Clerk is marketed as a thriller but doesn't pack many thrills. It's built on the relationship that forms between Bart and Andrea; Tye Sheridan does a fine job portraying a character with Asperger's. He speaks with the same monotone manner of fact-ness, and captures an inability or unwillingness to keep eye contact, awkwardness when it comes to social interaction, difficulty to process emotions and lack of filter.
The Night Clerk is nothing special visually or technically, and the way the central relationship plays out is pretty unsatisfying, but it provides some much-needed representation that you don't get to see very often.