Hey, everyone, new guy here! Want to start off by thanking Taylor for giving me the opportunity to write on his incredible blog! Having just started writing film reviews in the last year or so, my desire to write full-fledged reviews came simultaneously with a generous offer to write on the incredible mind-job blog itself! Thanks Taylor! And now, how Time Share will ruin your next vacation:
I recently came across a Netflix hidden gem that no one else seems to like, the Mexican film Time Share (Tiempo Compartido). It immediately caught my attention after reading the description: “an American timeshare conglomerate with a sinister plan.” Perfect! A normal movie with something lurking in the shadows. Sounds like my kind of movie.
Though my first impression was of slight disappointment (like everyone else’s), I mulled it over, then watched it again with my dad, and I realized there may just be more going on below the surface of this film (quite literally)! So, without further ado, let’s jump into a non-spoiler intro to our film.
(Side bar: If you don’t know much about timeshares like me (at age 23), this page has a great rundown to get you acquainted. It’s pretty relevant.)
Spoiler-free overview (find out if Time Share is for you!)
We start off the main plotline at the Everfields Resort with our family-of-interest: Pedro the father (Luis Gerardo Méndez, who you may know from Charlie’s Angels (2019)); Eva the mother (Cassandra Ciangherotti, from The Similars, which I hear you guys have wanted a review of for a lo-o-ong time); and Pedro Junior the young son, who goes by Raton. Disembarking their Everfields arrival bus, they trudge through mosquitoes to arrive at their beautiful resort villa. We quickly infer that Pedro has used a “timeshare discount” to provide his family with an exorbitant luxury vacation — this trip is out of the ordinary, and Pedro is hopeful that it will “heal” their family (alluding to some past traumas).
But this beautiful, hopeful trip quickly turns sour when security guards arrive at the door and want to see Pedro’s papers… It turns out their private villa will be more cramped than originally expected — the resort has double-booked, and (as usual) there are “absolutely no vacancies.” And with that, a spacious villa becomes cramped and uncomfortable, as four new guests share “sleeping space” with our quiet family, forcing Pedro’s entire family onto the pull-out couch.
Our final character is introduced very sparingly and mysteriously. Andrés (Miguel Rodarte), the washed-up, years-past employee-of-the-month who is seen wheeling laundry through a dingy, gray basement of the Everfields Resort — hidden away from the Everfields community.
And with this, our landscape is painted, and the movie’s creepiness can commence.
Spoiler-free review of Time Share
So what’s so good about this movie?
The quality of this film is spectacular! It premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and two of its actors won Mexican Academy of Film Awards (Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor in a Minor Role). The cinematography is sharp and creative, and the acting and casting are spot-on. I absolutely loved the music — it was eerie and haunting, perfectly capturing the discomfort of our family’s stay there. The color scheme of pink is distinct, and serves the core themes spectacularly (more on this later).
The story is equally haunting, and the experience of watching this film stayed with me for several weeks after. Next time I am in a Disney or another “family friendly resort” like the Everfields Resort, I will undoubtedly think about this movie and shudder a bit inside.
The continual contrast between fantasy and reality (a core theme of the movie, which I’ll explore more in the spoiler section below) is striking. From overt comparison, such as Andrés’s poor living conditions, to the subtle, such as the resort’s constant mosquito nuisance, it does a great job of displaying Everfields as a farcical paradise. For those that haven’t seen it, I leave you with a Netflix link and my recommendation — let me know in the comments if you like it! If you’ve seen the film, read on to see my dissection (and some wild theories) on this resort thriller!
What is happening beneath the Everfields surface?
First let’s recap some of the main events that occur. What do we know by the end of the film?
We know that Andrés and Gloria are the couple we see in the very opening scene. Andrés is sobbing in some poolside cave-closet and Gloria pleads for him not to fall apart, saying “Do it for him.” This must be occurring in the aftermath of the death of their son.
The very next scene is Andrés having a panic attack as he falls to the ground blowing his whistle. This is Andrés at the height of himself, back when he was at the top of his game. A super-star resort aficionado! The employee-of-the-month!
We also know that Vistamar was recently acquired by the American Everfield conglomerate. This transition presumably moved one step further from providing justice for the death of Andrés and Gloria’s son, which we have a sneaking suspicion was caused by the resort. Gloria has bought into the Everfield forward-looking shift and tells Andrés “If you don’t adapt, you’ll be left behind.” And it’s clear that she has already left Andrés behind.
We know that Eva was institutionalized and Pedro has cashed in on a deal that seems too good to be true in the hopes for a healing vacation with his family. Maybe their marriage is even on the rocks, and this is Pedro’s effort to really unify his family.
We know that Andrés is under extreme emotional duress and is provided medication from his employer. He seems to have periodic check-ups to make sure his medication is working. He lies to his boss and tells them he does not have the visions as he used to.
The first example of this movie going beyond its first-glance depth is the abundance of the color pink (and sometimes red). Now, in the average film, colors usually go so far as to contribute to the look and feel of the film, but they don’t often carry a deeper meaning. (The classics do, e.g. green in the novel The Great Gatsby, red in the film The Sixth Sense, etc.) In Time Share, however, pink appears anytime there is something even slightly reality-bending on-screen.
Take the most notable and obvious example of the flamingo. We first see it from Andrés’s perspective in the hallway.
Clearly this is meant to be a vision: Andrés takes a pill and the flamingo goes away. Interesting… is he schizophrenic? Delusional? Whatever the case, this flamingo is definitely not real.
The next flamingos to appear are tough to catch — they do a great job of blending into the background. After Pedro, Eva, and Raton get their food from the dining room food line, we see two flamingos right next to the magic show! What better way to represent trickery and deception than with a magician!
Andrés also wears pink for the first half of the film. Andrés, who acts as the exposé of the Everfields farce, transitions from his pink shirt to a nice Hawaiian one which he casually steals from a guest’s room. Nice. This changing of shirts represents the slowly changing mind of Andrés from fantasy to reality, and his resolution to “take something away from Everfields so they see what it feels like” — bringing the illusion crashing down in the process.
Finally, the clincher of this color theming comes right at the end of the film, when Pedro gets the call from Andrés. Pedro makes his way to the laundry room basement and meets Andrés to receive the red folder containing Pedro’s family information. In order to take the folder from Andrés’s hand, Pedro walks out of the red light and into the blue. This is a clear step out of the illusion and into the Everfields scheme-ridden reality.
The next scene is Pedro at the presentation in the bathroom. He takes off the medical tape and out comes the red, bloody gauze from his nose: a symbol of his readiness to purge himself of the Everfields illusion. And the epic climactic scene comes when he sticks it to the man and exposes Everfields for what it is — a self-interested money-machine.
Now the crazy stuff!
Taking this color representation one step further is where the fun really begins! If the color pink represents illusory images, some pretty wild theories come out of it.
Andrés’s laundry manager doesn’t exist: First is an unnamed, inconspicuous character, the laundry manager. From what I can tell, he is the only other employee who wears the same pink-with-white-frills uniform that Andrés wears. Even as Andrés walks into the presentation room with a throng of people (at around the 15:00 mark), there are no other pink-shirters, even though Gloria says “They told us we had to sit by color.”
The fact that the laundry boss’s uniform is that same fluorescent pink has me convinced that he doesn’t exist. He is a figment of Andrés’s imagination. Perhaps he was Andrés’s Vistamar boss, or an old coworker. But I think he is a byproduct of Andrés’s vision-seeing. Likewise, the scene where Andrés’s boss pulls Gloria’s uniform out of the laundry is part of this delusion. The (bloody?) red-stained batch of towels represents Andrés’s acceptance of Gloria’s “death” – that Gloria is as departed from him as his son is.
So what has caused Andrés’s visions? This leads me to my second theory:
Whoever resists the Everfields machine is drugged or removed from the system: If someone brings no benefit to the Everfields conglomeration, they are no longer considered a part of the Everfields family. In the same way that Gloria has disowned her husband, Everfields seeks to disown Andrés, pushing him to the outside.
When Pedro refuses to conform, he starts experiencing this exile as well — exhibited nicely by the tennis coach’s refusal to give him a fair serve. I don’t think the serve that breaks his nose was intentional, but the doctor’s office he ends up in feels suspiciously within the Everfields sphere of influence… Bringing to light the fact that Pedro is prescribed medication, and it seems that both Andrés and Pedro take drugs provided to them directly by Everfields. Coincidence? I think not.
As Pedro follows the doctor’s direction to stay in his villa, he seems to become even more catatonic and lackluster than usual. Is this caused by injury, or does his medication decrease mind function? Not only this, but Pedro has now begun to participate in Andrés’s flamingo hallucination! All this seems to point to the idea that Everfields has had enough of Pedro’s inability to conform, and has decided it’s time he was drugged. And if that doesn’t work, he must go — never to be accepted into the Everfields family. Everfields’ malevolence goes one step further when considering that the loyal employee Andrés has been drugged for five years. Everfields has stripped Andrés not only of his community (his wife and son), but of his own identity.
Abel’s family works for Everfields: Abel, the father and husband of the imposing family, has an unusually strong interest in Pedro’s family. He also knows suspiciously detailed information about Pedro’s medical history, telling the doctor “He broke his nose when he was a kid. When he was 11.” We know Everfields does thorough research on their clientele (as seen in Andrés’s red envelope), and it seems like Abel may have studied up on our protagonist and his family.
Most of his conversations with Pedro also double as sales pitches. In the dining room, Abel passes Pedro an Everfields pamphlet, and tries to convince Pedro’s family to join them at the “cenote.” Next, Abel and his wife talk with Eva about giving Raton a sibling, which feels like an inappropriate conversation to have with someone you’ve met less than a week ago — and happens to push an agenda interchangeable with the Everfields “family” propaganda.
And last (but definitely not least), after the final presentation, Abel quickly volunteers to “ask a question” which is not, in fact, a question, but a sales pitch: “I wanted to thank you (Everfields) for all these beautiful moments. We like to think that, in just a few days, our family has grown. Like my wife always says: ‘There’s nothing in this world like a big happy family.’” What better way to get other families on board than to show a guest eloquently express his family’s growth in Everfields paradise! And, of course, this “perfect” family has a dedicated sand sculpture for Pedro to so kindly spit on.
Abel’s family strips Pedro’s family of privacy and introspection in order to manipulate their emotions and make a sale. And with this, the Everfields conglomerate rears its ugly head, proving it is fully apathetic toward Pedro’s hard work at bringing real growth and healing to his humble family.
The take-away — What’s it all mean?
So maybe you don’t buy into all my theories! Or maybe you do. But putting those aside, it seems clear that Time Share is calling out timeshare conglomerates (and perhaps “big business” in general) for their purely self-interested philosophies. Even when touting themselves as hiring locally or being environmentally friendly, they knowingly gentrify and manipulate, turning people into numbers and selling happy feelings. The things that make us human — honest emotion and personal struggle — are unacknowledged, hidden away for the sake of “paradise” and “family,” but most importantly, sales. Honest emotions such as Andrés’s grief and impoverished circumstances, or Pedro’s familial commitment in lieu of his wife’s emotional struggles, are ignored and considered unprofitable.
The Everfields Resort is shown to be entirely inconsiderate of people’s lives and personal struggles, instead focusing entirely on how to maximize profits. We see this when Gloria tells Tom (RJ Mitte/Walt Junior from Breaking Bad) the heartbreaking story of losing her son and, rather than being empathized with, she is critiqued and told to tell her story differently. We see this when Pedro pleads to have Abel’s family relocated, but he instead comes up against no acknowledgement of his personal situation and goals, and receives no compromise. And finally, we see this in the subtle, unsettling clincher that plays on the Everfields TV as the credits roll: footage of a happy Andrés and his still-alive son smiling joyfully on the Everfields TV guide.
What do you think?
So what do you think! Do you buy into my theories? Do you have any of your own?
Some other questions to get your noggin going:
We see very little of the outside world — could this be a dystopian film?
Did Vistamar/Everfields intentionally kill Andrés’s son?
Could a cult be involved in Everfields’ view of “adaptation”?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Taylor here. Fantastic job Parker. I’ve just re-watched the film and you totally won me over with a couple of these theories. Totally put the entire film in a new light. And if you guys are are interested in a few other movies in this same vein, why don’t you check out, Vivarium, The Invitation, The Art of Self Defense, and Bad Times at the El Royale.
Edited by: CY