Starring: Carla Peterson, Juan Minujín, Fernán Mirás
Director: Jazmín Stuart, Hernán Guerschuny
Running Time: 96 mins
Recreo is an Argentinian film about a group of friends who get together at a ranch for a holiday weekend together. While their kids all run around and play, their conversations about life and love become ever more personal, and ever more tense.
If anything, this film seems more like an Argentinian take on Perfect Strangers than anything, with a pretty similar setup of characters, and similar dramatic twists and turns, even if it doesn’t copy it entirely. In that, there is some great drama and intensely awkward emotion throughout here, however the film really falls down in delivering that intensity across the whole duration, rather than in just a few thrilling bursts.
Let me explain. The great thing about Perfect Strangers, the Italian original at least, is that there’s an underlying tension that bubbles and bubbles through every second of the movie. Even the opening act, where everything is jolly and good, has a certain uneasiness to it, which comes about through very good directing and clever writing.
Recreo, on the other hand, doesn’t have that tension and uneasiness bubbling throughout. Its story definitely has moments which really get you on the edge of your seat, but the majority of the movie comes across as just a little too innocuous for its own good. The opening act is bright and jolly, which undermines the real power of some of the early tensions between the characters, and while the story does develop to a point where emotions really do run high and fly out in the open, the film never keeps up that intensity to really make for a genuinely heart-stopping drama-thriller.
That’s not to say that the film has to be a pulsating, non-stop thriller, because while Recreo certainly looks like it takes many cues from Perfect Strangers, it’s still not the same movie, and there is an argument to say that what is does provide differently is just as good.
After all, the lead six performances are pretty good, with an impressive range of actors that resist the temptation to go into serious melodrama when things become really tense, and the screenplay crafts some fantastic moments of high drama and emotion that really do hit home out of almost nowhere, which really isn’t easy to do.
As a result, you do understand and care for the characters to a degree in Recreo, and that’s what makes its best moments work really well, as you invest yourself in the supremely awkward and difficult situations that continue to arise between the friends.
Having said all that, however, I still feel what the film is lacking is a consistent build-up of tension that leads to a crescendo of emotions flying out into the open. That bubbling tension gives a good pretext for how good friends turn on each other so viciously in Perfect Strangers, yet because that isn’t as present in Recreo, the sudden nature of the outbursts and arguments lead you to believe that it’s not the situation that’s leading these good friends to start yelling at one another, but that these people may just be a little more mean-spirited in nature, which doesn’t do the film any favours when trying to endear you to the characters.
Overall, I liked elements of Recreo, above all its performances and fantastic few moments of high tension and drama. However, its similarities to a superior film like Perfect Strangers are what undoes it in the end, failing to carry out the real intensity and bubbling tension on a consistent basis that could have made this film a whole lot more exciting and powerful, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.9.