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

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

The Divine Move
Film Review: The Divine Move

Excessive violence and off-the-wall plotting undermine an intriguing game-based premise. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Hercules
Film Review: Hercules

Legendary strongman is caught in the middle of a brutal civil war in a fast-paced vehicle for Dwayne Johnson. 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