SUNDANCE: Tiempo Compartido Directed by Sebastian Hofmann

Starring Luis Gerardo Méndez, Cassandra Ciangherotti and RJ Mitte
SUNDANCE: Tiempo Compartido Directed by Sebastian Hofmann
Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
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Few things threaten the promised relaxation of vacation quite like the requirement to endure a high-pressure time-share sales pitch. Mexican director Sebastian Hofmann has upped the stakes significantly, using that dichotomy as the basis for his weird, darkly comic and subtle thriller Tiempo Compartido (Time Share).
 
Pedro (Luis Gerardo Méndez) and Eva (Cassandra Ciangherotti) have had a rough year and can't wait to unwind with their son in the fancy vacation villa that Pedro has wrangled on their tight budget. If things seem too good to be true, that's because they most certainly are — just as they're settling in, another family shows up. Despite the resort's performative apologies, they act like their hands are tied and so Pedro and Eva must spend the week sharing a suite with strangers.
 
Meanwhile, married couple Andrés and Gloria both work for the resort, though one's career is taking off as the other's falls apart. Gloria attends sales training with a ruthless go-getter (an excellent turn from Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte, further proving just how under-utilized he is)  and ambles for a promotion while Andrés wanders the resort, hallucinating from a strange balance of meds.
 
It's hinted at from the start — eventually the resort is revealed to be far more sinister than presented, with a cult-like group of devotees referring to the organization as a family. Pedro and Andrés become increasingly paranoid, eventually meeting up and devising a scheme to escape.
 
Despite its thrilling premise, Tiempo Compartido is not a nail-biting thriller. Instead, it offers plenty of drama and dread in its slow burn. Factor in some eye-popping cinematography — all clever shots and candy-coated tropical colours — and the film is a unique ride. Fans of Yorgos Lanthimos's off-kilter output will find plenty to enjoy here, as it's another movie that dazzles and baffles with its controlled weirdness. (Piano)