Tuesday, 26 July 2016


"Rebirth" (2016, Karl Mueller, Netflix) is a film about peer pressure and the dangers of self-help groups.

Kyle (Fran Kranz) is a guy trying to live the American dream. He has a wife and a kid and a white collar job and spends his evenings going to through the same routines. Every day is the same and he feels a nagging feeling of unfulfilled potential. But in the main, he has a beautiful family and a beautiful home and what more could a guy want?

Kyle's everyday life is soon turned upside down, however, when his old college friend, Zack (Adam Goldberg) shows up at his office looking and acting every inch the free spirit he was in college. Intrigued, Kyle agrees to join Zack on a weekend self-help retreat called "Rebirth" which Zack maintains is the key to self discovery and enlightenment.

When he gets there Kyle finds the experience to be somewhat different to his expectations and he becomes lost in a maze of confusing situations, emotions and rooms as he tries to make sense of it all. But his terrifying ordeal may not simply end when he finally escapes the labyrinth as although you are free to leave "Rebirth" at anytime...."Rebirth" may not leave you....

I like Fran Kranz. I've mentioned this before. I think he's a talented actor and it's just a bonus that he's also cute. This film has flaws, but one thing really shines through and that's Kyle's palpable frustration and terror. He feels like he's missing some big joke and everyone is in on it except him and his awkward attempts to join in to the 'big group' are almost hard to watch. He's a dull, normal, everyday guy and he doesn't want to be the protagonist. I feel for the guy.

Nicky Whelan, however, steals the show as the mysterious, sophisticated and cold Naomi.

I have met people who are involved in something I'd consider along the same lines as "Rebirth" as an organisation. They live the brand, they breathe the brand, they wear the brand, they drink the brand, they eat the brand and they only talk about the brand. They're so indoctrinated into their organisation's influence that it's honestly scary. And while this film pokes fun at organisations like the one I'm thinking of, it also makes a hard hitting statement: everyone thinks they need this. Everyone thinks they're doing something wrong and that they could achieve more, all they need is for some nice, easy, secret potion to make everything fall into place. And that potion's price is not so important if it's shiny enough...

The film is really slow to start and I did find myself thinking about giving up, but once it got going it was interesting enough. Almost everyone in the film is an asshole. And the underlying tone that everything is a big sham but no one is willing to say it is pretty haunting. But all in all the film feels a little under produced and something felt missing, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Whilst it's not exactly a ground breaking film, I did enjoy it and felt some things about it ponder at the back of my mind over the course of the following day, which I appreciated.

[Image: Netflix]