I’ve never seen a film with so many missed opportunities as “Tiempo Compartido (Time Share),” an odd little indie drama from Mexico. The story of a family vacation gone horribly wrong emits a haunting sense that something deeply sinister is going on, but its subversive tone and satire ultimately disappoints.
The film is set at the Vistamar timeshare resort where married couple Pedro (Luis Gerardo Méndez) and Eva (Cassandra Ciangherotti) have accepted a free offer for a perfect weeklong stay with their young son. Things get worse when they learn the luxury suite has been double booked and they are forced to share their accommodations with an obnoxious family. There’s a subplot about disgruntled resort employees and estranged couple Gloria (Montserrat Marañon) and Andres (Miguel Rodarte) and their struggle to sell happiness to tourists while struggling in their own lives. Then there’s resort manager Tom (RJ Mitte), a slick, silk-suited corporate motivational speaker who’s all about the sale.
The script is full of great ideas and scenarios that have complex set ups yet never pay off. Director Sebastian Hofmann stumbles in the execution of the story, especially when the narrative gets just plain weird. A major problem is that the enemy antagonist isn’t bad enough. He’s annoying but not exactly the “devil” the film sets him out to be. I wish the more serious psychological themes had been further explored, like the trappings of fake happiness that stem from overt capitalism to the depressing setting of the resort itself — a place of forced smiles that hide the sadness behind the scenes and the determined stress of families longing for vacation fun. It’s sold as a destination paradise but it’s one where nobody can openly express their true emotions. Most of these themes are touched on all too briefly to make any lasting impact.
There’s still much to appreciate about this film, from the tremendous performances to Hofmann’s impressive visual style that makes meaningful use of light and shadow. The drum heavy musical score (by Italian composer Giorgio Giampà) is another strong element, one that grows increasingly ominous as the story unfolds.
This is at least an intriguing film that’s different from much of the work coming out of Mexico. I just wish the project hadn’t hesitated to go a little deeper into the darkness.