Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Reunion

This reunion of old college friends gets a leaden treatment in what is effectively a one-act play posing as a film.

March 6, 2009

-By Erica Abeel


filmjournal/photos/stylus/73893-Reunion_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In Reunion, a group of friends from Yale reunite after 20 years to assess the damage. This juicy premise—contrasting present realities with undergrad dreams—has been famously explored in The Big Chill and Return of the Secaucus Seven and in novels galore, pulp and literary. However, despite some comic moments and sassy quips, this current outing about fortyish types who went to college in the ’80s feels leaden, maladroit and inauthentic.

Chief instigator is Jake (Brett Cullen), a successful trial lawyer, who stages the reunion in the conference room of his glitzy law firm. He is honoring the wishes of his wife Janie—the It girl of the group—who died ten years ago and requested the meeting for reasons never made clear, but presumably so Jake can disclose her big secret. Also on hand: Jake's much-younger girlfriend Averil (Zoe McClellan), who's got tough competition in the dead wife; a stereotypical Jewish doctor (Josh Pais) and his wife (wonderful stage actress Jessica Hecht, misused here); a mogul (David Thornton) with a private plane and a girlfriend called Minerva (Alice Evans), the name itself fair warning; a semi-recovering alcoholic (Jamey Sheridan) and his wife (Cynthia Stevenson), a disgruntled novelist. Throw in a bold-face journalist and a talent agent, both equally unpleasant, and you've got the main players. The only fun guy in this lineup is an aspiring actor working in security at Jake's posh firm, who hits on the talent agent to advance his career.

Janie has apparently requested that the friends recreate their "program" from their Yale "secret society" (think Skull and Bones). In a cross between confession and group therapy, the members take turns accounting for their lives and assessing one another, sometimes brutally. The weekend encounters ratchet up the intensity, old rivalries and longings, and the pressure mounts for Jake to spill why Janie wanted everyone to meet. But unless I missed something, why is never clarified and the big reveal is a dud. Hruska means to implicate the friends in some way for Janie's derailment, but fails to make the case, which renders the reunion a voyeuristic exercise. True, there are some telling quips: "You're just the same guy with a lot of toys” and the weird comment, "You'll have diapers, school admissions, chemo—all the things that make you feel alive." But despite some lovely music on the soundtrack—probably Brahms—this reunion remains static, essentially a filmed one-act play, and never delivers the goods.


Film Review: Reunion

This reunion of old college friends gets a leaden treatment in what is effectively a one-act play posing as a film.

March 6, 2009

-By Erica Abeel


filmjournal/photos/stylus/73893-Reunion_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In Reunion, a group of friends from Yale reunite after 20 years to assess the damage. This juicy premise—contrasting present realities with undergrad dreams—has been famously explored in The Big Chill and Return of the Secaucus Seven and in novels galore, pulp and literary. However, despite some comic moments and sassy quips, this current outing about fortyish types who went to college in the ’80s feels leaden, maladroit and inauthentic.

Chief instigator is Jake (Brett Cullen), a successful trial lawyer, who stages the reunion in the conference room of his glitzy law firm. He is honoring the wishes of his wife Janie—the It girl of the group—who died ten years ago and requested the meeting for reasons never made clear, but presumably so Jake can disclose her big secret. Also on hand: Jake's much-younger girlfriend Averil (Zoe McClellan), who's got tough competition in the dead wife; a stereotypical Jewish doctor (Josh Pais) and his wife (wonderful stage actress Jessica Hecht, misused here); a mogul (David Thornton) with a private plane and a girlfriend called Minerva (Alice Evans), the name itself fair warning; a semi-recovering alcoholic (Jamey Sheridan) and his wife (Cynthia Stevenson), a disgruntled novelist. Throw in a bold-face journalist and a talent agent, both equally unpleasant, and you've got the main players. The only fun guy in this lineup is an aspiring actor working in security at Jake's posh firm, who hits on the talent agent to advance his career.

Janie has apparently requested that the friends recreate their "program" from their Yale "secret society" (think Skull and Bones). In a cross between confession and group therapy, the members take turns accounting for their lives and assessing one another, sometimes brutally. The weekend encounters ratchet up the intensity, old rivalries and longings, and the pressure mounts for Jake to spill why Janie wanted everyone to meet. But unless I missed something, why is never clarified and the big reveal is a dud. Hruska means to implicate the friends in some way for Janie's derailment, but fails to make the case, which renders the reunion a voyeuristic exercise. True, there are some telling quips: "You're just the same guy with a lot of toys” and the weird comment, "You'll have diapers, school admissions, chemo—all the things that make you feel alive." But despite some lovely music on the soundtrack—probably Brahms—this reunion remains static, essentially a filmed one-act play, and never delivers the goods.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Rudderless
Film Review: Rudderless

Well-done indie drama about a lost-soul house painter reborn through rock ’n’ roll is a nice actor’s showcase for star Billy Crudup and an impressive directorial debut for actor William H. Macy. But in spite of some good work onscreen, both hero and story lack the edge and originality to carry this drama beyond respectability. More »

Camp X-Ray
Film Review: Camp X-Ray

Army guard and Guantanamo detainee form a grudging relationship in a thoughtful but far-fetched drama. More »

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Film Review: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

As charming as it is delicate, this unusually low-key, if a tad overlong, animated feature brings yet more prestige to the famed Ghibli output. More »

Dear White People
Film Review: Dear White People

There won't be a smarter or funnier screenplay this year (or more striking feature directorial debut), and that is just the basis for this surprising, wonderful and quite definitive college film. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here