Review: "Gun and a Hotel Bible" a Witty & Gritty Two-Man Show
Updated: Feb 27
Based on a stage play, this thought-provoking production is not your standard faith-based movie fare.
We initially came across Gun and a Hotel Bible in 2019 at a Christian film festival where we caught the first third of the picture. That was enough to make clear this production breaks dramatically from the genre template. In fact, it is an oddity in many ways: from salty language, to irreverent humor that at times crosses the line, to its 58-minute run time which makes it too long to be a short and not long enough for a feature.
That said, there is much to like here. Written by the two lead actors - Daniel Floren and Bradley Gosnell - it is centered on a down-and-out cuckold named Pete, who is played by Gosnell. Bent on revenge against his disloyal wife and her paramour, he arrives at a flea-bag, no-tell-motel hotel room, gun in hand, determined to act out his sanguinary designs.
Enter Floren in the role of a vivified Gideon's Bible that goes by the name of Gid. Decked out in a dark suit and tie, what a jaunty part he at first plays, quoting Scripture and soliloquizing about decades spent in the squalid hotel room, subject to indignities and loneliness for want of readers. With the arrival of Pete, he sees an opportunity for action and promptly connects with him, identifies the problem and finally susses out the root causes of his interlocutor's pain.
For that is what is at the heart of Pete's lost faith - he was once a Believer - and now serves as the catalyst for his plan to mete out Old Testament Justice to the adulterers, as prescribed in Levitical law; the two lead characters, in a haunting bit of synchronicity, recite the deadly verse in unison. From there, the dialogue between them goes deep into Pete's suffering and the bitterness he feels toward God because of it.
Lots of credit is due to Floren and Gosnell for their writing and performances and to co-directors Alicia Joy LeBlanc and Raja Gosnell for the film's blocking and production values. There is rollicking repartee, mirth-inducing humor and a genuine pathos in Pete's trials, all of which are well choreographed and help avoid what easily could have devolved into a stilted and claustrophobic picture since it is essentially a one-location production with two actors (there are some extras).
Having laid out the many positives, we would be remiss if we were not to emphasize the aforementioned negative elements that separate this movie from the standard faith-based template. Because of its subject matter, profanity and the taking of the Lord's name in vain, it is inappropriate for young viewers: certainly those below the high-school level. We suspect the same issues, though rooted in realities of life, are likely to put off a portion of the traditional faith-based adult audience too.
Christian Film Blog nonetheless recommends Gun and a Hotel Bible because it is well-done, thought-provoking and presents a Gospel message of God's love in a high-level production. We do so, however, with caution for the reasons listed above.
If you'd like to watch the film, it is available in digital format to rent for $3.99 or purchase for $9.99 at Amazon and you can find it via this link. If you are unsure, the trailer below will give you a better feel for what to expect.