Netflix’s ‘The Night Clerk’ is a Paint-by-Numbers Crime Drama Lifted by Unconventional Characters

Julien Neaves, Editor

Plot: A hotel night clerk with Asperger’s Syndrome becomes a suspect in a murder investigation when he is discovered in the room of a dead female guest.

Review: I saw this one pop up in my Netflix suggestions and it looked interesting enough. I thought it came out this year but it was released February 2020 and I guess my Netflix Latin America/Caribbean region was just late to the party. By the trailer I was expecting an engaging mystery thriller but what I got was a pretty generic crime drama that only stands out because of its unconventional characters.

Man. Ana de Armas is smoking. And I ain’t talking ’bout that cigarette

The film stars Tye Sheridan as Bartholomew “Bart” Bromley, the titular night clerk with autism spectrum disorder Asperger’s Syndrome (a neurodevelopment disability that affects the ability to effectively interact and communicate with people) who sets up secret cameras in hotel rooms to monitor guests and learn about human behaviour and interaction. I am familiar with Sheridan from his appearances as Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix and also from his work in Ready Player One and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, but I can’t say he has wowed me with any of these performances. But I enjoyed his work here as there is a level of commitment to the role that is palpable and he truly immerses himself in Bart. It is always tricky playing someone with any type of disability and even trickier when it is a developmental disorder as the actor has to be believable but never enter the realm of caricature or parody. Sheridan does well to make Bart feel like a real person and even a somewhat sympathetic one despite his admittedly creepy invasion of people’s privacy.

Ana de Armas stars as Andrea Rivera, a troubled hotel guest Bart falls in love with. I have only seen her in a couple of films (thriller Knock Knock and mystery Knives Out) but in both movies she was one of the stand-out actors, and her star will continue to rise whenever the heck Bond flick No Time to Die is released. The Night Clerk is not exactly her best work but she is solid here and has some great chemistry with Sheridan. Helen Hunt and John Leguizamo round off the main cast as Bart’s longsuffering mother Ethel and resolute Detective Espada respectively, and while they give their best they are not in the film enough to have much of an impact.

So you like looking at ladies in their rooms, right? A little Peeping Tom action?

The Night Clerk may be a crime drama but writer/director Michael Cristofer (who won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play for 1977’s The Shadow Box) seems more concerned with the drama aspect and Bart’s struggles than with the crime aspect. Despite Bart being found in a room with a dead body the police appear to leave him alone for the majority of the film which felt very off. And I could also see the twists coming from so far if I was Tattoo I would be shouting “The Twist! The Twist!” So yeah the crime and mystery aspect of the plot was not all that engaging. But thankfully Sheridan’s revelatory performance and intriguing interactions with Ana de Armas’s Andrea make this one worth watching. Just don’t expect this Night Clerk to get a top rating on tripadvisor.

Editor Jules’s Score: 6.5 out of 10

For Featured Writer Alice’s review of Netflix crime drama White Tiger you can click here. Or for Senior Writer Sommer’s review of romcom mystery Happily you can click here.

B0FC059B-BBEE-47CF-90E4-D588C1BACD93 Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. I can also be found posting about TV and movie memes, news and trailers on Facebook at Movieville. And to stay on top of all Redmangoreviews articles you can like and follow us on Facebook here.