Recurrence (Pipa) review: Convoluted thriller leaves much to be desired

Netflix’s Recurrence aka Pipa follows former cop Manuela “Pipa” Pelari who now lives a peaceful life in the small town of La Quebrada in the north of Argentina. However, the murder of a local girl sets an investigation in motion that drags her back in the muck of crime and secrets.

Pipa is the third film in a trilogy, following Perdida (2018) and La Corazonada (2020).

Story

The death of a young girl belonging to the Qulla community kickstarts the plot. As the police investigate, Manuela “Pipa” Pelari heads to the police station and meets her cop friend Rufino.

She lets him know that the deceased girl, Samantha “Sami” Sosa was scared and hiding in her shed last night but before they could talk, she ran away.

Flashbacks reveal that Sami was hired as a waitress for a party at the Carrera mansion. The wealthy family is run by the matriarch Etelvina who has two children, Cruz and Mecha.

The former is a drug addict fighting his demons while the sister is soon to be engaged to the mayor’s son. Pipa, on her aunt Alicia’s insistence starts investigating Sami’s death and a deep pool of secrets comes to the forefront.

Pipa is attacked by a masked assailant but survives. The key to what happened at the party lies in Sam’s phone which everyone is looking for.

Once the clues start unraveling, a dangerous game of death and betrayal begins.

Performances

Luisana Lopilato reprises her role as Pipa and gives a decent performance considering the plot. She has the most screen time and does justice to her character who is pulled back into the world of crime.

Mauricio Paniagua plays the Qulla cop Rufino. He’s measured in his approach to the character and feels like a genuine plot driver. His presence in the film is an important one and he does well as Pipa’s ally in the investigation.

Aquiles Casabella is by far the most impressive in the film. He plays the drug addict Cruz Carrera and gives a moving performance. The actor succeeds in emoting the internal struggles of an addict and the way he tackles his character arc is worth praising.

Almost at par with him is Malena Narvay who plays his sister Mecha. Her character too is the victim of neglect from an overambitious mother and has a lot of demons to fight. Her relationship with Cruz is a major aspect of the film’s narrative.

Other cast members including Inés Estévez, Ariel Staltari, Paulina García, Benjamín Del Cerro, among others are a positive addition to the film as well.

Positives

Pipa thrives on a story that has a lot of elements. From the plight of the Qulla community and local corruption to the Carerra family secret and dirty politics. All these factors do add to the intrigue.

There is a recurring theme of mothers going the extra mile to protect their children in the film. On one side we see Pipa trying to do right by her son Tobi while Etelvina takes the dangerous route to protect Cruz and Mecha.

Negatives

Unfortunately in Pipa’s case, the negatives outweigh the positives as the film suffers from a very convoluted narrative.

It is extremely confusing to put the events into perspective as it shifts from one topic of discussion to another without so much as a hint.

Flashbacks are blended in with the present day in a manner that it takes a while to discern what is happening on screen. Even though the film tackles a lot of topics, it does so poorly, lacking coherence.

The arrest of a Qulla leader is a major plot point in the film which really adds nothing to the original murder mystery. Sure, it puts a bit of public pressure on the cops and those in people but still feels like an unnecessary addition.

Furthermore, a lot of plot points are introduced but not resolved. For instance, a past romance between Pipa and Rufino is talked about but never unfurled in detail.

Cruz and Mecha’s relationship is revealed to be an incestuous one towards the end but no further explanation is given as to why that is. Chief Mellino is revealed to be Cruz’s father but no history on that as well.

All these sudden expositions with no explanations make Pipa a film riddled with poor writing choices that has no impact or thrill.

Verdict

What could have been a good action-thriller to close off the trilogy ends up becoming yet another mediocre film in Netflix’s library. You can sit through it if you’ve got nothing else on your watchlist but don’t expect an enthralling experience from it.

Rating: 2/5


Also Read: Recurrence (Pipa) ending explained: Who killed Samantha Sosa?