A baggy genre film with an obnoxious score, Recurrence is elevated by an above-average central performance in an otherwise forgettable film.
This review of the Netflix film Recurrence, also known as Pipa, does not contain spoilers.
The third film in the trilogy, following Perdita (2018) and Intuition (2020), follows Pipa, now living a quiet life in the solitude of the countryside. After a young girl is killed, she finds herself once more dragged into a world of violence, murder, and corruption.
Recurrence is a pulpy thriller, full of brooding and foreboding music cues. Very early on its tone is set and it rarely strays from the strict conventions of its genre. If it does ever pull away from the strict crime thriller formula, it is to veer wildly in the direction of melodrama, almost at times feeling like a telenovela, all smoldering soap stars sipping martinis in shoulder pads.
The plot is a little baggy with some unresolved threads and a couple of notable subplots feeling unfinished. The film would have been much better if it was a bit tighter and at least one of these was trimmed completely. The romance, for example, is left almost totally unresolved and would have perhaps been better off left on the cutting room floor. Even the obligatory narrative twists don’t really land with much punch and sadly can’t manage to lift Pipa to anything close to above average.
The score is consistently oppressive and at times, distracting and obnoxious. It seems as though the intention is to invoke the sort of claustrophobia of something like Gone Girl, but in practice, the effect is discordant and actually rather unpleasant.
The central performance from Luisana Lopilato (Sunstrokes), now in her third outing in the role, does a lot of heavy lifting, she is by far the most developed character in the film and she brings some nuance to the role. This is, however, where the nuance ends. The rest of the supporting characters are largely undeveloped and very two-dimensional. The script relies heavily on archetypes to shortcut character development. There is the ruthless matriarch presiding over her empire, the mustache-twirling henchman (actually a few of these), the corrupt official, etc. These characters largely meet the fate that you might expect and there is nothing here that you haven’t seen before.
However, in spite of its many flaws, Recurrence is absorbing enough to pass the time. It doesn’t do anything particularly special, but neither does it do all that much terribly (aside from the issues with the score). They set out to make a crime thriller and by golly that is what they made. If you liked the first two installments in the trilogy, this might be worth a look, otherwise, perhaps give it a miss.
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