Netflixable? The Further Murder Investigations of “Pipa” detour into “Recurrence”

A little shouting at the screen when watching a movie can be a good thing — liberating, underscoring hw involved you’ve gotten in the story.

And then there’s the shouting one must simply must do at “Pipa,” retitled “Recurrence” for North American Netflix. It’s a thriller, the third in a series (“Intuition,””Perdida”), about Argentine cop Manuela “Pipa” Pelari, and it’s the worst of the lot.

Filmed in the arid, rocky mountains of Argentina that look the most like Mexico, its striking scenery is its best recommendation. And star Luisana Lopilato — who married Michael Buble’ — is back and always delivers fair value.

But this movie is as cluttered as a telenovela, and just as stupid.

It’s about a dead “Indian” girl, dirty cops, a missing cell phone and the machinations of a corrupt machine in a corner of the world where displacing the locals and using the police to stomp all over them — and their rights. Yes, “Recurrence” is a little hard to follow and a lot harder to reason out.

Pipa has been kicked out of policing and lives in the mountains with her idiotically rebellious 12-13 year-old son Tobias (Benjamín Del Cerro). Her aunt (Paulina García) lives nearby and provides moral support, wondering why she won’t risk entering the local dating scene.

As Pipa has a knack for “choosing the wrong guy” (in Spanish, subtitled or dubbed into English), be they cops or civilians, that’s not on her agenda.

But then this pretty “junky” teen dies in a way that leaves her body charred to a crisp, and Pipa’s aunt insists that she look into it.

North or south of the border, “The word of the police is not enough,” she insists to her niece. “To them, she’s not important.”

As Pipa sniffs around, she gets the attention of the bad cops, and maybe one good one. Rufino (Mauricio Paniagua) is Indigenous and sympathetic to the locals who fret over what the richest, most powerful family in town is doing with their land, and who protest every arrest and police beating no matter how little good it seems to do.

As we and she recreate the party that was the last place the victim (a servant) was seen alive, see TV ads for a crusading reformer campaigning for mayor, eavesdrop on the rich current mayor who is about to marry his son into that even wealthier family, drop in on Pato (polo-like “horseball” matches) of the area’s One Percent, we can guess what Pipa suspects.

The corruption runs deep and wide, and just might be murderous. Pipa starts to get threats.

A kid who’s hanging with the country boys who like playing with guns is what constitutes “trouble at home.” And every now and then, he just lashes out at her and she takes it, because that’s what parents do in the movies.

All this plot clutter doesn’t make the story more complex. The broad canvas/narrow focus nature of the tale means that many threads are introduced and left dangling. The only reason for the Native protests is to contrast Rufino from his brutish fellow cops and supposedly suggest the “political” stakes of what’s being covered up.

And at every juncture, someone does something so obviously boneheaded as to make you shout at the screen. Cops shoot at Pipa and a suspect she’s questioning, narrowly missing her, and ask in all seriousness, “Are you all right?” Police chases never have cops radioing in their actual location.

We see characters drop guns, phones, etc., only to have them reappear in their possession.

“Recurrence” is a scenic but very stupid murder mystery/thriller. So learn from my mistake. There’s no sense both of us losing our voices shouting at this dud.

Rating: TV-MA, violence, drug abuse, sex, profanity

Cast: Luisana Lopilato, Inés Estévez, Paulina García, Ariel Staltari, Mauricio Paniagua, Santiago Artemis

Credits: Directed by Alejandro Montiel, scripted by
Florencia Etcheves, Alejandro Montiel and Mili Roque Pitt. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:56

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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