Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sundance ’18: Time Share

In a town like Park City, the evils of time share sales require little explanation. Alas, poor Pedro could have used a good cautionary talking to. He paid the nominal membership fee and attended the sales seminar, just so he could reserve a villa at the Vistamar resort, for a highly discounted rate. However, the dodgy company double-booked their private pad. Much to Pedro’s dismay, they will be forced to cohabitate during their “healing” vacation in Sebastián Hoffman’s Time Share, which screens during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City.

If Time Share were a 1980s Hollywood comedy, the uptight Pedro might have been played by Tom Hanks and the slovenly but infinitely shrewder Abel could have been John Candy. Initially, they would have clashed, but eventually they would have teamed up to teach the nefarious resort company a lesson. This will not be that film. Instead, the reserved and somewhat snobbish Pedro starts to suspect Abel and his clan are deliberately trying to alienate him from his wife and son.

Frankly, it almost seems like Team Abel and the staff of the Vistamar, now renamed Everfields by the new American owners, are in cahoots. The only exception is Andres, a laundry worker increasingly estranged from his wife Gloria, an up-and-coming member of the sales team. Andres might be the only one more paranoid than Pedro, partly because he has recently gone off his meds. Still, that does not necessarily mean either man is wrong about the resort.

Time Share is not a horror film, but it rests uneasily in the zone of psychological extremity frequented by Polanski, Solondz, and Aronofsky at their indiest. The paranoia is definitely contagious. Unfortunately, Pedro is a problematically weak focal character and Luis Gerardo Méndez never fleshes him out to any great extent. Frankly, as soon as we meet him, we can’t wait to ditch him.

In contrast, Miguel Rodarte’s Andres is nearly as reserved, yet deeply unsettling and completely unpredictable, in a tightly wound sort of way. Yankee RJ Mitte is just as hard to shake playing Tom, a horrifyingly manipulative sales coach, who could pass for the sociopathic nephew of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.

Hoffman exhibits a masterful control of mood and foreboding, which is amplified by the ominous shine rendered by cinematographer Matias Penachino. He really makes the palatial resort look simultaneously seductive and sinister. Time Share will make viewers antsy in both good and bad ways, but there is no denying it is a distinctive piece of filmmaking. Recommended for those who appreciate dark psychological dramas, with a hint of the surreal, Time Share screens this Monday (1/22), Friday (1/26), and Saturday (1/27) in Park City, as well as tonight (1/21) in Salt Lake, as part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.