RE:UNITING – Review by Cortland Jacoby

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Movies about old school friends coming together after decades apart have long been an indie film tradition. The obvious example of this trope is The Big Chill, followed by smaller festival darlings like About Alex and The Intervention. First-time filmmaker Laura Adkin adds to the canon with Re:Uniting, a melodrama about six college friends coming together over a long weekend after 25 years.

With the scenic Bowen Island in the background, football-player-turned-morning-show hopeful Collin (Roger Cross), his best friend and assistant Danny (David James Lewis), hard-working mom Carrie (Bronwen Smith), and single surgeon Natalie (Carmen Moore) descend upon the lakeside idyllic home of Michael (Jesse L. Martin) and Rachel (Michelle Harrison). Their hosts seem like the perfect couple, but as things do in reunion narratives, something is bubbling right under the surface.

As they hunker down for a few days of water sports, drugs, and plenty of wine, questions about what is going on with every single member of the group start to rise. Is Rachel an alcoholic and are she and Michael divorcing? Does Carrie have a thing for Rachel’s brother? Why did Collin reject Natalie’s advances? Of course, most of these questions turn out to be misdirects laid out by Adkins’ script.

At times, Adkin’s dialogue feels better suited for the stage than the screen as does the cast’s delivery. A lot is weighing on Rachel’s shoulders and you can feel it in Michelle Harrison’s performance. When the group’s secrets finally come to light, their reactions are broad and overwhelming, leaning towards overacting. Part of this is Adkin’s writing and the fast pacing of the scene. Jesse L. Martin dodges that bullet, omitting dramatic pauses and acting in the moment.

Cinematographer Stirling Bancroft utilizes the picturesque quality of the Canadian landscape. Every still looks like it belongs in a frame on a store shelf. A warm yellow light envelops every shot until it doesn’t when the Canadian clouds start rolling in. Clearly, things were shot on different days, but for a small-budget independent film, Re:Uniting is beautiful to look at. Overall, the (mostly) warm visuals are a welcome and complete contrast to the melodrama going on in the story.

Laura Adkins clearly appreciates the genre. Re:Uniting hits all the beats it’s supposed to. People make jokes while crying. Characters pair off to reveal some inner truth while still being vague for the sake of the story. Someone screams out in the open air by a body of water. The entire group reconnects. There are some wonderful and thoughtful moments in Re:Uniting, but we’ve seen many of them in other films. What would Adkins be able to do if she branched out and wrote beyond the genre?

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Cortland Jacoby

Cortland Jacoby is a critic and writer based in the DC area. Her work can be seen on Punch Drunk Critics, Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Ranker, and Game Rant. While she writes a lot of reviews, she loves to conduct interviews and attend film festivals. She is also a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association.