Caribbean holidays may never be quite the same after watching “Time Share,” the second movie from Sebastián Hofmann, one of the most admired young talents working in Mexico, which is world premiering in World Competition at Sundance.
Visit Films has acquired international sales rights, Paradigm is selling U.S. domestic rights; Variety has had exclusive access to a clip from an early stretch of the film. Hofmann impressed with his debut “Halley,” which also played Sundance. Now he is back with a much better-known cast, including Luis Gerardo Méndez, star of Netflix’s “Club of Crows,” and R.J. Mitte, best known for “Breaking Bad,” and a smart dramedy – as Mexican comedies now prove repeatedly to be among the highest-grossing foreign-language movies in the U.S.
Co-written and produced by Julio Chavezmontes at Mexico City’s Piano, the edgy production shingle he owns with Hofmann, “Time Share” turns on two men at a tropical resort who slowly become obsessed – but maybe rightly so – by the idea that the resort is trying to take their loved ones away through a twisted time share scheme.
One of these, Pedro, played by Méndez, discover in the clip that his dreamed-of getaway villa, where he hoped to spend quality time with his wife and young son, has been double-booked. Pedro and the other family’s father, Abel, travel by buggy to the front desk of the pharaonic hotel.
“I tried to make a serious comedy,” Hofmann said. “Time Share” deals with “a layer of globalization” as big business takes over international resorts, presenting the hotels as families and attempting “to create a sense of belonging in tourists, and loyalty in the employees. It’s rather like being part of a sect,” Hofmann told Variety.
“Hyper-realist,” says Hofmann, “Time Share” was inspired by a year Hofmann spent living in a hotel in Acapulco with his mother who sold time-shares on commission.
The clip suggests some reasons why Hofmann is one of Mexico’s most buzzed-up young directors. Just as the resort’s business practices are unnatural, so is its decor, fore-fronted in many shots, and lensed in unnatural tones. The camera constantly creeps forward, like in horror films; a vertical shot of the hotel’s lobby worthy of a Hitchcock film has the feel of a haunted house comedy – though isolation, sadness and what might be paranoia take the place of supernatural beings.
“Time Share” is a Mexico-Netherlands co-production between Piano and Circe Films. Stienette Bosklopper, Lisette Kelder and Hofmann himself co-produce.
“The guiding principle for Piano has remained the same since Sebastián and I established the company in 2011: To produce innovative and uncompromising films with diverse aesthetic sensibilities,” said Chavezmontes.
He added: “‘Time Share’ is a very different film from ‘Halley’ or ‘We are the Flesh,’ but what they share in common is a willingness to surprise audiences and defy classification.”