A Crime Thriller Mired In Mediocrity
“Recurrence” is an Argentine crime-thriller movie featuring characters devised by author Florencia Etcheves. It is the third instalment in the “Pipa” trilogy by director Alejandro Montiel, following “Perdida” and “Intuition”.
The protagonist of the movie, Manuela Pipa Pelari, is an ex-violent crimes investigator who now works on a farm and resides with her son Tobias in the small, picturesque town of La Quebrada in Northern Argentina.
Pipa left the police department as a result of the trauma caused by her former companion and drug dealer Cornelia Villalbas’ demise, as featured in “Perdida”. She felt miserable and trapped, and her life was slowly falling apart. Her aunt Alicia eventually takes her to the lovely La Quebrada valley.
The stern woman who made it through her tenure in the federal police department by violating laws and hiding skeletons in her closet, has decided to alter her life course. Pipa discovered calm; a chance to start anew, and a place to lower her guard in the small Argentinean village.
Recurrence begins with the death of Samantha Sosa, a 16-year-old girl discovered in a burned state. Alicia persuades Pipa to transform into her older self. Pipa embraces the person she used to be and sets out on a dangerous quest to learn the truth about what happened. “Who killed her, and why?” are the concerns that run throughout the movie and result in new discoveries.
The tone of the narrative is established early on in and it hardly ever deviates from the stringent conventions of its crime-thriller theme. If it does, it wildly strays into the realm of melodrama.
The entire movie includes some stunning cinematography though, including the opening sequence. The rocky and isolated setting provided plenty of opportunities for the filmmakers to simply take advantage of the abundant beauty of the terrain, and they did so to the fullest extent possible.
One scene in particular that stands out is one in which the boys are navigating a canyon’s riverbed. The enormous basalt cliffs behind them give us a chance to appreciate how incredibly tiny and insignificant they are in comparison to these enormous sheet cliffs.
It was a significant effort to establish the magnitude and create a sense of isolating peril, which was required to increase tension toward the story’s conclusion and make the danger seem more plausible.
In its subplot, the storyline had several components that felt like vital cultural conversations. Numerous themes are discussed in Recurrence, such as institutionalized racism, indigenous rights, and systematic corruption. It addresses some very real issues, including issues faced by indigenous people and the effects of excessive authority, among others. These subplots run throughout the film and give us some insightful commentary, despite being an outlying narrative.
The storyline depicts the Carrera family as evil capitalists. However, the contrary perspective isn’t explored at all, and these themes are presented poorly. It also fails to bring complexity to this duel. It chooses a side and does not allow the audience to choose by displaying both sides of the debate. Furthermore, it lacks the emotion that these issues demand.
The musical score throughout the film is puzzling and frequently obnoxious. There are parts where the soundtrack feels ripped from an 80s sci-fi TV show, which is a strange juxtaposition portrayed in the film. Other times the score is quite dramatic, which complements the narrative’s theme.
The combination of these sound scores stands out – and not in an elegant way. It appears the goal here is to evoke claustrophobia similar to the movie Gone Girl. However, in reality the result is jarring and downright unpleasant. It doesn’t always seem to blend with the storyline.
As much as the plot begins on an interesting note and even though we are witnessing narrative development, the middle section of the storyline feels chaotic. Several episodes occur and feel connected inside the storyline, but the transitions and how they are woven together are not always seamless or natural.
To top it all off, when this happens some sections feel incomplete. For instance, the romance is almost entirely unresolved. Even the expected narrative turns fall flat and tragically fails to elevate viewers to a level that is even somewhat above mediocrity. It appears as though the writers knew the story they wanted to convey so well that they eliminated sections without realizing it.
However, as the plot progresses into the third act, everything does become quite gripping. As the plot progresses towards the climax, all the activities have a bit of a ticking bomb to them, and this section of the storyline is compelling.
The action in this crime drama picks up in the last significant section of the movie, where the stakes feel quite high. The characters experience a considerable deal of danger and tragedy here. Even though the midsection of the movie causes the viewers interest to waver, the film’s conclusion significantly improves.
One of the movie’s weakest features is the unimpressive characters. Their acting is acceptable but not particularly noteworthy. Pipa is overly stereotypical. She is impatient, confrontational, and sometimes fixated.
The supporting cast consists primarily of flat, two-dimensional characters. To speed up character development, the script frequently uses archetypes. The vicious Matriarch ruling over her kingdom and the corrupt officials are present, but the outcomes are essentially predictable and nothing unique is being shown.
The characters aren’t particularly memorable either, and the movie fails to make the audience feel a connection to them. But because of who the characters are, they are able to make the viewers feel anxious for their safety.
Recurrence begins with a compelling criminal mystery, but due to a lack of proper connections and transitions, it loses its way in the middle.
Power, prestige, and the privilege that goes along with them are among the slightly interesting themes. However, as it doesn’t present a distinct viewpoint, the film falls short in its portrayal of these themes, feeling shallow and extremely stereotyped as a result. It’s not a bad film though, and there are some stand-out moments, but too much of Recurrence is mired in mediocrity.
Read More: Recurrence Ending Explained
Verdict - 5/10