Helmer Roger Gual’s follow-up to “Smoking Room” takes a similar, almost surgical pleasure in forcing hypocrisies into the light of day, though a tendency toward stagey soul-searching clouds cinematic judgment. “Remake” is a European “Big Chill” centered around a reunion of ex-hippies, now mostly solidly bourgeois, whose laissez-faire parenting skills come back to nip them. The expected long night of revelations proves more interesting from an intergenerational standpoint, though uniformly excellent perfs mean thesps get the most out of the material. Still, pic is unlikely to create the kind of buzz generated by Gual’s debut.
Back when dropping out and tuning in seemed like the thing to do, a group of friends started a commune in a rambling farmhouse in the hills of Catalunya. Now more than 30 years later, Max (Mario Paolucci) is the only one left, a dysfunctional relic cut off from the modern world, who calls for a reunion before selling the rundown place.
While Max never adjusted to life post-1969, the four adults who join him for a last farewell are all successful city types. As the weekend unfolds, they’re confronted not only by failed ideals and pink-tinged memories on Super-8, but by their underachieving children, who blame their non-traditional upbringing.
Victor (Juan Navarro) is especially bitter at parents Damian (Juan Diego) and Patricia (Silvia Munt), who are disillusioned and struggling to keep their fragile world together. Chatty, successful Carol (Mercedes Moran) and ex-hubby Ernesto (Gustavo Salmeron) appear more balanced, yet their outward confidence masks insecurities. While sons Alex (Eusebio Poncela) and Fidel (Alex Brendemuehl) aren’t as angry as Victor, they, too, feel unmoored.
This tension between the younger generation’s paralysis and their parents’ earlier experimentation differentiates “Remake” from most other inward-looking dramas of failed ’60s idealism, though the older folks are unquestionably the more interesting personalities.
Victor’s g.f. Laura (Marta Etura, “Your Next Life”) quickly becomes tiresome in her need for the spotlight, and dramatically, there’s no good reason for her inclusion, but on the whole, Gual and fellow scripter Javier Calvo craft intelligent lines for thinking people. However, as the past is dredged up and frailties almost sadistically uncovered, the exchanges become just a series of barbs that fail to produce the kind of cathartic, Albee-esque moment one might rightly expect from such a work.
Acting kudos are shared all around in this true ensemble piece, though Munt’s edgy, unhappy Patricia is a standout in creating a woman of deeply unsettled conflicts. Gual’s recreation of hippie abandon on faded super-8 is picture-perfect without ever seeming staged, and Alberto de Toro’s expert editing seamlessly juggles characters and pitch.