EVERY TIME I DIE *** USA 2019 Dir: Robi Michael. 98 mins
A disorientating subjective prologue (complete with blinking) sets up the premise of this distinctive, character-driven genre piece. Paramedic Drew Fonteiro sets out for a weekend break at a cabin in the woods with his work partner (who is overcoming his own personal issues) while harbouring the ulterior motive of spending time with the married woman (Melissa Macedo) with whom he has been having an affair, and whose husband is back on the scene. While his work friend offers philosophical cocktail metaphors and positive thinking, Fonteiro gets savagely beaten up and his consciousness travels through the bodies of his friends as part of the overriding mission to protect them from his killer. Held together by Fonteiro’s charismatic performance, this shifts between time periods and the hero’s blackouts (“It’s like I’m possessed or something”) while filling in backstory about the childhood PTSD he suffered following a family tragedy. It’s a well-acted study of the enduring impact of a devastating bereavement – fashioned into a relatively complex psychological thriller that gradually unfurls different layers of reality. Co-writer / director Robi Michael keeps it visually interesting and subtly employs visual effects, while the plight of Fonteiro’s character has an emotional resonance that would have been lost in a more expensive, FX-driven movie. It’s a tad overlong and a little too ponderous to be a breakaway indie hit but deserves kudos for sincerity and for the suitably elegiac score by Ran Bagno.
Review by Steven West