There’s something profound about the intimacy two strangers share, and the conversations that unfold, when circumstances bring them together in a desolate place and they have only each other to keep company through the lonely night. We can be uncommonly open in such settings, more so than even with friends or family. Is this a consequence of simple shared loneliness, and the feeling that these experiences are ephemeral? Or can these encounters eventually lead to a meaningful exchange and make for a life-altering change?
Director Brett Ferster’s One Night in Aberdeen revolves around such a meeting, when a traveling man and a local woman make a chance encounter at the bar of a Super 8 set in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The motel chain is on the brink of a massive change, and yet they find themselves in a long conversation that evolves from small talk and snappy dialogue into a deeper exploration of their own selves. With terrific acting from David Trimble and Julie Orton, the core of One Night in Aberdeen‘s lasting impression lies in it’s depiction of relatable characters and the film’s strong writing from Charles E. Netto & Mark Hopkins. Trimble’s Traveling business man character especially, oscillating somewhere between desperate enthusiasm and loneliness, feels like a mixture of a poor man’s version of the George Clooney character in Up in the Air and Death of a Salesman‘s Willy Loman.
The film was adapted from a feature length stage play, which is occasionally apparent, but the depth of the characters and the writing successfully transfer to this adaptation, and likewise, the pace of the film is excellent. As a dialogue-heavy short that runs almost 25 minutes, that might be a surprise, but the conversational approach to storytelling services the film’s themes well, inviting the viewer into the intimate relationship between the two protagonists. While One Night in Aberdeen never really raises the stakes to a grandiose level, maintaining a low-key tone throughout, the film will stick with viewers for a while whom, like the characters themselves, are open to an investment with strangers.