Review: Recurrence

Score:  C

Director:  Alejandro Montiel

Cast:  Lusiana Lopilato, Paulina Garcia, Inés Estévez

Running Time:  116 Minutes

Rated:  TV-MA

"You still think it's an accident?"

The third film in a trilogy, following Perdita (2018) and Intuition (2020), Recurrence, also known as Pipa, sees our title character now living a quiet life in complete solitude amongst nature in the vast countryside. But when the body of a young woman is discovered burned in a nearby shelter, Pipa finds herself pulled back into a world of violence, power, and corruption.

Starring Luisana Lopilato, Recurrence wastes no time setting a tone, utilizing its quick pace to categorically check the boxes, staying firmly within the genre's basic formula. Obvious foreshadowing allows astute viewers to piece together the puzzle with unexpected ease. Director Alejandro Montiel struggles to find a balance between the life of Pipa, the possible murder she is dead set on solving, and the life of luxury and privilege that exists thanks to the Carreras's stronghold on the town's land.

Part thriller, part drama, part telenovela, Recurrence is a tale of its parts, only a few of which are better than the final product. A forced romantic side plot, a painful tangent that never gets enough screen time to develop completely, marks the most irritating of these deviations. But that feeling is common as the film quickly becomes overstuffed with side storylines that are eventually left unresolved. Whether that is the result of time or interest, most of them merited a place on the cutting room floor.

Pipa, the franchise's centerpiece, is the film's most developed character. As a result, Lopilato carries much of the story on her shoulders, navigating the rough terrain with surprising ease, giving viewers a heroine to root for as she works to uncover a possible motive. But her interactions with her costars appear forced, the dialogue pained by a shortage of interest or connection. I'm not sure if it stems from a lack of chemistry or if the writing fails to initiate the soul, but there is little emotion throughout the film and little care for the story and its set of characters.

Those supporting players often find themselves the victims of archetypes. Painfully undeveloped and unapologetically two-dimensional, many come and go without much notice. The pacing of the story often clouds their purpose. Many actors cannot take full advantage of their screen time, victims to the film's rapid approach and uneven writing. As a result, the story becomes bogged down, trying hard to hit all the expected marks, ultimately failing to make a concise point. Everyone is familiar, their actions expected, their demise handily predictable.

That is, at its core, the primary issue that exists here. The film, on most fronts, is fine–an acceptable way to pass the time. But it's all painfully familiar, never reaching outside the box to offer us something of substance. And though there are occasional bright spots (notably Lopilato), the twists and turns are bland and highly anticipated, the final frame leaving much to be desired. It wasn't bad, but given the amount of content currently available to viewers, it needed to be more.

*This film is streaming globally on Netflix.
**Note this film is presented in Spanish with English subtitles.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.