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Original title: Tiempo compartido

D: Sebastián Hofmann / 96m

Cast: Luis Gerardo Méndez, Miguel Rodarte, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Montserrat Marañón, Andrés Almeida, Emiliano Rodriguez, RJ Mitte

For Pedro (Méndez) and Eva (Ciangherotti), a week’s vacation at an Everfields holiday resort with their young son, Raton (Rodriguez), is exactly what they need after a year spent recovering from a family tragedy. However, their plans for a relaxing holiday are ruined on the first night with the arrival of a family headed by Abel (Almeida) who have been booked into the same apartment as Pedro and Eva. Eva invites them to share the apartment (much to Pedro’s annoyance), and the two families find themselves spending all their time together. They even attend the time share sessions that the hotel has set up. Overseen by Tom (Mitte), an American Everfields executive, the sessions give one of the hotel staff, Gloria (Marañón), a chance to improve herself, but it’s at the expense of her marriage to Andres (Rodarte), who also works there, but who had a seizure five years before that caused some long-term physical effects. Believing that Gloria is being brainwashed by Everfields, he discovers just what they’ll do to sell a time share, while Pedro learns the hard way that his own marriage isn’t as good as he thought it was…

A Mexican-Dutch co-production, Time Share has a surfeit of good ideas that it can play around with, and it establishes an uneasy, eerie atmosphere from the start, with pre-seizure Andres blowing a whistle and then finding himself unable to stop while at the same time he becomes as rigid as a board. However, though those good ideas are brought into play quite often, and sometimes to very good effect – two encounters between Andres and a little boy are cleverly done – when they’re taken all together, there are too many awkward juxtapositions that interrupt the movie’s flow, and make it feel disjointed. The script – by director Hofmann and Julio Chavezmontes – wants to be an emotional drama about the effect of familial tragedy on couples who are still grieving, as well as a mystery (just what part of Everfields’ sales strategy is being withheld from potential customers?), and a thriller (a series of mishaps hint at something darker going on at the resort). That none of these approaches takes central stage fully is an indication that Hofmann and Chavezmontes didn’t themselves know which avenue to explore as a main narrative thread, and as a result, they all suffer in terms of impact.

The movie also doesn’t really know what to do with Pedro as a character. He has an arc of sorts, but it’s one that wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for Andres’ timely intervention; otherwise he’s a lot like a petulant teenager: always moody, never satisfied, and frequently wishing he was elsewhere. He remains this way for much of the movie, and though Méndez does a fine job of articulating Pedro’s unhappiness, it’s not until very late on that Pedro becomes more than the one-dimensional protagonist he’s been up until then. Rodarte has better luck with Andres, using the character’s slowness of mind to appear methodical and determined, and sympathetic when Gloria and others use his slowness against him. Meanwhile, Marañón is very impressive as Gloria, infusing the character’s conversion to the “cult” of Everfields with a bitter desperation that is meant to give her renewed purpose after a personal loss, but which is clearly not working. In support of all the emotional brouhaha that Hofmann brings to matters, there’s sterling cinematography from Matias Penachino that includes a number of striking images, and the resort is given an appropriately second-hand, slightly rundown feel thanks to Claudio Ramirez Castelli’s production design.

Rating: 6/10 – while there’s much about Time Share that should work (and often it comes close to doing so), it’s ultimately a movie that develops only a few of the good ideas that it starts out with, while allowing many others to drift away from the narrative as if they’ve been forgotten about altogether; a mixed bag then, but worth a view for Marañón’s terrific performance, and those moments where Hofmann’s directorial intentions jibe perfectly with the demands of a script that is too wayward, too often to be consistently good or bad.

NOTE: The following trailer doesn’t have English subtitles, but it’s so well assembled that you’ll get a very good idea of what’s happening anyway.