Pete (Bradley Gosnell) is a scruffy young guy who is as down on himself as Cindy (Mia Marcon) is upbeat. She is the young woman he meets at a seedy Chicago hotel bar and marries six months later. When he discovers she continues to see another man regularly at that same hotel, he checks in, carrying a backpack with a gun in it.
But already present in his room is the fast-talking enthusiastic Gid (Daniel Floren). He’s been there, he tells Pete in their more than hour-long conversation, for 66 years, evidently since the hotel was built. He is the “Word,” the man-version of the Bible that the Gideon International organization places for free in hotel rooms.
Gid figures out Pete’s intentions and discovers that though Pete disdains the Bible, he knows quite a bit about it and religion. They talk about literal interpretation, the New Testament being the fulfillment of the Old, appreciating the context in which the Bible was written and interpreted, and so forth. At one point, Gid tells Pete he reminds him of St. Paul when God zapped him with a light from heaven to get his attention and his commitment to faith. But Gid is not glib; he doesn’t defend the deaths of so many in the Old Testament and carefully proposes faith even when we have trouble understanding. He doesn’t presume Pete’s faith or lack thereof; he challenges it intellectually and emotionally.
Remember, the name Peter means “rock” and as in the case of St. Peter, naming this character this Pete, another “rock,” could be seen as referring to their hard heads when it came to listening to God, Father, Son and Spirit. Pete resists Gid throughout, at one point saying, “Don’t most hotels at least have the courtesy to leave you in a drawer?”
The film is co-directed by Alicia Joy Leblanc, who directed the original play for the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival and Raja Gosnell (Never Been Kissed; Big Momma’s House). It is the highly verbose, atmospheric film adaptation of a two-person play co-written by Floren and Gosnell.
“Gun and a Hotel Bible” is entertaining, well-acted, thought-provoking and thematically, it is for mature audiences. I found it very engaging. Though there is no explicit violence in the film, I suggest seeing it first before you show it to teens, given the too common use of guns in domestic violence and to solve problems. The story takes a broad look at the Bible and authority over its interpretation. Catholics will want to talk about the distinctions between the Catholic Church’s belief about authentic magistral interpretation of Scripture vis’-a-vis’ the Protestant approach. There is a lot of room for theological questioning and conversation in “Gun and a Hotel Bible.” The ending is a testament to free will in the sense that we are free to choose good, not evil – though God will not stop a person from pulling the trigger if he decides to do so.
This is a short review, but I think so much more could be said, especially after the drama is over and the clean-cut Gid, dressed in his Bible salesman-like suit, sits down on the floor, back to the wall near the bedside table with the Bible on it, to wait for the next guest. One thing is for sure, God’s Word in the Holy Bible is present and patient, and never tires of waiting for us. Gid is the sacramental, visible manifestation of the Word, and he symbolizes the availability of God’s grace through active reading and reflecting on God’s Word: spiritual strength and love in our time of need, and good teaching to live a meaningful life
Click HERE for the film’s trailer.
Click HERE to view or purchase “Gun and a Hotel Bible” available as of January 5, 2021.