“To old friends and new narratives..." unless those friends are ready to toast your downfall. “Brief Reunion”, a psychological thriller written and directed by John Daschbach, explores the fine line between friend and foe, truth and fiction or ultimately life and death. This film poses a serious and provocative challenge: can you really bury the past? If your mistakes come back to haunt you, how far must you go to escape? Set in the breathtaking hills of New England, “Brief Reunion” features Joel de la Fuente as Aaron, a successful middle-age entrepreneur. Aaron has it all: financial security, a beautiful wife, an active business and a tight-knit circle of friends. Their lives are so linked that Aaron is married to Lea (Alexie Gilmore), the little sister of his college roommate Mark (Quentin Maré) who lives nearby with Gavin (John Ellison Conlee). In a warm opening sequence, the group is shown sharing a meal and much laughter… but there is trouble brewing. The reappearance of Teddy (Scott Shepherd) sends up an immediate red flag. Long ago, Teddy was involved in their collegiate clique through Neil, a deceased former classmate and business partner. Notoriously sneaky, Teddy hates being an outsider and bears a grudge against all of them, especially Aaron. Teddy first crops up on Facebook, targeting Mark and Aaron who have no interest in befriending him. He also goes after Aaron’s wife, who naively accepts the request. She is soon face-to-face with the real Teddy in the local grocery store. Oozing superficial charm, Teddy extracts an invitation to Aaron’s 40th birthday when he sees the festive supplies in her cart. Teddy hijacks the event by bringing his vegan girlfriend Simone (Kristy Hasen) to this cozy steak dinner. Teddy hasn’t told Simone they are spending her birthday at someone else’s house. Lea starts to detect trouble when Teddy corners Aaron during a smoke and proposes a dubious real estate investment. Aaron is reluctant to get involved because of his own business, which is facing a potential problem. Strangely, Teddy knows about this confidential issue and has some pointed questions about the past. Among them is the sale of Proem, a lucrative venture for Aaron, Mark and Neil ten years ago. Bitter because he was excluded from the deal, Teddy mentions that Neil spoke on his deathbed about improprieties regarding Proem. Teddy claims that Aaron owes him, exposing a thirst for extortion and revenge. Teddy now stalks Aaron at home, at work, and in cyberspace. Aaron must face persistent questions about his personal and professional life everywhere he goes. One touchy subject is an old flame Gitta Gerard (Francie Swift), whom Aaron dated during his wilder days in Prague. Aaron has been purposefully quiet about Gitta because they had a passionate and unresolved affair. Incriminating photos of Aaron and “Gitta Glitter” pop up on the Internet. Scrambling to remove these photos, Aaron is confronted by Lea. To make matters worse, Aaron is tricked into confronting his suppressed emotions from the way he and Gitta parted. When Aaron finally confesses about the gorgeous Gitta, Lea turns it into a referendum on their relationship. Brief Reunion is haunted by Michael Shaieb’s original score, which heightens the intense physical drama and the brutal emotional conflicts. From its opening credits, the film exudes an aura of mystery and foreboding that contrasts sharply with the domestic comforts and bucolic setting. With saturated colors, widescreen cinematography, and elegant time-lapses, the solidity of nature and its never ending cycles provide an artistic counterpoint to the churning saga of Aaron’s life – as well as to the fact that he can’t hide his secrets forever… unless he finds a way to escape.
Starring Joel de la Fuente, Alexie Gilmore, Scott Shepherd
Director John Daschbach