An ambitious misfire, Retrospekt follows Circé Lethem’s Mette, a wife and mother of two, as her decision to give a battered woman safe haven ultimately has disastrous consequences – with the time-shifting narrative exploring the period both before and after a fairly calamitous event. Filmmaker Esther Rots certainly does an effective job of immediately drawing the viewer into the proceedings, as Retrospekt opens with a striking, electrifying sequence detailing Mette’s encounter with a knife-wielding man at a clothing shop. From there, however, the picture segues into a puzzle-like midsection that’s ultimately not as engrossing or compelling as surely intended – with the increasingly busy storyline suffused with far too many elements to really make much of an impact (ie there’s just too much going on here, ultimately). And though the mystery of just what happened to Mette provides the movie with an undercurrent of suspense, Rots’ refusal to answer this question until the movie’s closing moments also serves as a fairly problematic distraction. The movie is likewise packed with elements that prevent the viewer from connecting to and sympathizing with the central character’s plight, and it’s clear, too, that Rots’ various stylistic choices, intriguing as they sporadically are, contribute heavily to the arms-length feel. (This is especially true of an ongoing reliance on overbearing songs written just for the movie.) The end result is an interesting experiment that just never quite lands, with Rots’ decidedly singular approach to the material certainly boding well for her future endeavors (ie there’s plenty of potential here.)

** out of ****

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