Pat The Bull Films and Lightbeam Productions, in association with Flirty Bird Pictures and 5cm/Sec Productions, presents British film, ‘Checking In’ (2014).
This Independent feature is a clever anthology containing five stories centred around the guests of a busy hotel over a 24 hour period. The stories are neatly stitched together by hotel employees Alec (Roger David Francis) and Radka (Nici Preston). They hear what goes on, they know what goes on and they see it, but for them it’s all in a day’s work. After the guests have gone, others will always come to replace them.
At the heart of the story is The Baron’s Court Hotel in Walsall. Behind the process of checking in there are people. Each person has a different story, a different past and a different reason to visit. The first story follows bickering husband and wife, Ted and Mary. This is a humour piece that lightly introduces the dramas that follow.
Secondly, we are presented with Sally and Tim. Sally is a musician and Tim is her manager. Michelle Rachel Cox who plays Sally, shows us what an amazing voice she has by performing a song in the bar that aptly expresses her feelings. The song was definitely one of the highlights of the film.
In another story, Ed and Jenessa are two young anime con attendees. During a break in the entertainment, they return to the hotel where we observe their developing friendship and Ed’s path to self acceptance.
As people come and go throughout the day, the staff prepare for Kalpna’s wedding. Later that evening, businessman Ren checks in. ‘Ren and Kalpna,’ is a dramatic story where an unlikely friendship emerges. The drama is heightened when staff assist the angry groom while covertly searching for an unwelcome prostitute.
The final story, written and directed by Dave Hastings is a fine piece of work. ‘Pete and Aaron,’ played by Conner McKenzy and Tony Gibbons, is one of the most thought provoking pieces of drama I have seen in a while. The depth of the characters and the actors’ portrayal of that depth is the perfect finale.
At 123 minutes, the film is quite long. I suggest you leave plenty of snacks close to hand.
‘Checking In’ has already won ‘Best British Film’ at The London Film Awards 2014 and will be available to watch through video on demand in the near future. It is a gem of an emotional roller coaster with a beautiful soundtrack that will leave you pondering long after you’ve turned your television off. We all have our quirks, we strive for acceptance, we long for happiness and we’ve all probably felt trapped at some point in life. This film expresses the real feelings of real people and I think viewers will be able to relate to them.
Review written by Carla Kovach.