You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance Film Review: ‘Time Share’

Dazzling and disquieting in equal measure, Sebastián Hofmann's sleek puzzler turns a family vacation into a slow-building nightmare.

Sebastián Hofmann
Luis Gerardo Méndez, Miguel Rodarte, Andrés Almeida, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Montserrat Marañon, RJ Mitte. (Spanish, English dialogue)

1 hour 36 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0464265/

The surface of “Time Share” may be liberally splashed with chlorinated blues and violent magentas, but the heart ticking beneath Mexican writer-director Sebastián Hofmann’s sleekly insidious sophomore feature is as black as burnt steak, and all the more alluring for it. A nasty, nettling little puzzle piece that cleverly probes patriarchal insecurity and corporate invasiveness through the course of one botched family vacation, the film coolly reels in viewers with radioactive visuals and a nightmarish slow-burn setup that calls both Michael Haneke and Ira Levin to mind: Two married men, separately in the grip of a corrupt luxury resort, fight the brightly-packaged company hypnosis that appears to have claimed their loved ones. If Hofmann doesn’t deliver a payoff quite worthy of his premise, “Time Share” remains an arresting, electric tease; edgier arthouse distributors should book themselves in.

Returning to Sundance’s world cinema competition five years after his striking debut “Halley” bowed in the same section, Hofmann announces from the off that he isn’t out to make things easy for his audience. “Time Share” opens on a disquietingly cryptic pre-credits prologue, introducing married couple Andres (Miguel Rodarte) and Gloria (Montserrat Marañon) as they tearily talk through a shared, unspecified sorrow, before leading a gaggle of happier families in a gunny sack race at the vast, well-maintained Everfields coastal resort, where they both work. Andres’ sudden, paralyzing panic attack caps a scene that lightly clues viewers into the blend of severity and eerie absurdism to come, though we haven’t time to process it: In a single cut, five years pass, and a younger family is introduced at the centre of the action.

Pedro (Luis Gerardo Mendez) and Eva (Cassandra Ciangherotti) are evidently working through some tamped-down trauma of their own when they check into a plush Everfields timeshare with their young son. Their R&R gets off to a rocky start, however, with the arrival of another family, headed by earthy, gregarious dad Abel (Andrés Almeida) at their doorstep; Everfields, part of a global chain of resorts that aggressively pitches concepts of “paradise” and “healing” to its customers, has double-booked the villa. Yet while this administrative error — for which management offers a glib apology but no rectification, as overbooking “isn’t illegal if it’s the result of success” — sends Pedro into a fit of pique, everyone else is strangely, passively accepting as the two families are forced to share the space.

No one comes off entirely well in this savagely drawn scenario. Hofmann and co-writer Julio Chavezmontes find social comedy in Pedro’s prissy classism — “We’re not spending time with them; [our son’s] IQ will drop,” he hisses to Eva about Abel’s brood — while keenly satirizing the disingenuous culture of corporate “caring” advocated by brands like Everfield. “You can trust us as if we were family,” a staff member says in trying to appease Pedro, and he doesn’t know the half of it: In cavernous backrooms of the resort complex, staff training sessions led by an unsettlingly slick sales head (“Breaking Bad” star RJ Mitte, intriguingly cast) resemble a form of cultish mind control. It’s here where we catch up with Andres and Gloria, now all but estranged: While his wife is a compliant rising star in the Everfields regime, Andres has been consigned to the resort’s menial underbelly.

Pedro and Andres are kindred spirits of a sort, both men dazed and disoriented as their lives and families slip, in uncanny but seemingly inexorable fashion, beyond their control — though Hofmann patiently develops their respective psychological binds in parallel for some time before they begin to cross. Aided by the looping, wandering rhythm of its editing (by the helmer, alongside Nathalie Alonso Casale and Yibrán Assuad), “Time Share” vividly unfolds like a bad dream in its muted surrealism, digressive structure and sudden but impassive leaps in logic, and that’s before live flamingos start encroaching on the interior proceedings. Rather like Pedro, viewers drift through its narrative corridors both riveted and powerless to anticipate its turns. After patiently building to such a fevered state, however, the film’s final reels don’t quite deliver the throat-grab they should: Key questions are left aptly unresolved, but not pressed to their most extreme possibilities.

It’s the woozily menacing cinematic language here that lingers, as cinematographer Matías Penachino, production designer Claudio Ramirez Castelli and composer Giorgio Giampà (giving Danny Elfman a run for his money in the sinister-whimsy stakes) all artfully corrupting the serenity of the film’s synthetic environment with strangely hellish detailing. Penachino, in particular, deserves to score some major assignments off the back of his head-turning compositions, in which saturated soda-pop hues are frequently rotted by shadow: “Time Share” is the kind of film that can turn pools of blush-pink to blood-red in a single shot, and a trick of either the light or mind is responsible.

Sundance Film Review: 'Time Share'

Reviewed online, London, Jan. 20, 2018. (In Sundance Film Festival — World Cinema Dramatic Competition; Rotterdam Film Festival — Voices.) (Original title: "Tiempo compartido")

Production: (Mexico-The Netherlands) A Piano presentation in coproduction with Circe Films. (International sales: Piano, Mexico City.) Producer: Julio Chavezmontes. Executive producer: Pablo Zimbrón. Co-producers: Stienette Bosklopper, Lisette Kelder, Sebastián Hofmann.

Crew: Director: Sebastián Hofmann. Screenplay: Hofmann, Julio Chavezmontes. Camera (ccolor, widescreen): Matías Penachino. Editors: Hofmann, Nathalie Alonso Casale, Yibrán Assuad. Music: Giorgio Giampà.

With: Luis Gerardo Méndez, Miguel Rodarte, Andrés Almeida, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Montserrat Marañon, RJ Mitte. (Spanish, English dialogue)

More Film

  • 'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race

    'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race for France's Cesar Awards

    French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” and Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody” lead the race for this year’s Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, with 10 nominations each, including best picture and best director. “Sink or Swim” (“Le Grand Bain” in France), a star-driven dramedy about a men’s synchronized swimming team, world-premiered at [...]

  • Face to Face with German Films

    Face to Face with German Films Unveils the Six ‘Faces’ of 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Teutonic promotional organization German Films has announced that its annual initiative supporting German filmmaking internationally, Face to Face With German Films, will focus on actors and actresses as the campaign enters its fourth year. Six of Germany’s leading thesps – Maria Dragus, Christian Friedel, Luise Heyer, Jonas Nay, Jördis Triebel and Fahri Yardim – will [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    'Green Book' Lands Post-Oscars Theatrical Release in China

    Fresh off Monday’s news that it had picked up five Academy Award nominations, best picture favorite “Green Book” is set for more good luck. The film will hit Chinese theaters on March 1, the first weekend after the Oscars, which fall on Feb 24, Alibaba Pictures announced on its official social media account. The film [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Celebrities Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes Following Fan Bingbing Scandal

    Chinese film and TV stars have paid about $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) in additional taxes, following last summer’s scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing. The figure was announced late Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the tax affairs of the entertainment sector last October. Companies and individuals were asked to [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz & Piano' TV Review: 'Russian Doll' [...]

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz & [...]

  • Paul DavidsonVariety Big Data Summit Presented

    Listen: The Orchard's Paul Davidson on Surviving Sundance Bidding Wars

    Hollywood heads to Park City, Utah this week in the hopes of finding the next big Sundance Film Festival breakout. Paul Davidson, executive vice president of film and television at The Orchard, plans to be in the thick of it. In today’s edition of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, Davidson opens up about The Orchard’s strategy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content