Rebirth Movie on Netflix Review (Explained)

“F— the Man,” “Keep It Real” and “Don’t Be Boring”

Three regulations are written in college help convince a man to leave his monotonous routine to find his true self and break away from all responsibilities. He goes for a mysterious weekend event called Rebirth. He experiences a different world free from all ties but soon gets lost in the maze of finding his true self. A labyrinth of doors and one statement: ‘You can leave anytime, just open the door’. The story holds true to this showcasing a new world every time a door is opened at the event. What starts as a promising thrilling experience of self-exploration and motivation, ends up leaving the viewer confused and unconvinced. There is no clear explanation about Rebirth, and what it really entailed for the people involved.

The main protagonist is Kyle(Fran Kranz). He lives an every-man life. Wakes up early runs on the treadmill. Then he spends time having breakfast with his daughter. He works as a social-media-chief in a bank where he writes fake tweets trying to promote and sell their mortgage business. He ends the day coming home to his wife(Kat Foster). This everyday pattern is suddenly broken when Kyle’s old college friend Zack(Adam Goldberg), turns up at his office. His bushy beard, arm tattoos, and incessant excited mannerisms portray him to be everything Kyle is not. Zack feels that Kyle is stuck in doldrums and tries to get him to do something new. He tells Kyle about a weekend event, Rebirth. With almost no details revealed save for some cryptic statements, Zack tries to convince Kyle to attend the event and find his true self. He believes that our lives are controlled by the man and all his relationships with the world. When in college they had written a manifesto stating “F— the Man,” “Keep It Real” and “Don’t Be Boring”. Still holding on to these regulations, Kyle gets convinced to go for Rebirth.

Many drew ties with Scientology when watching the film. Director-writer Karl Mueller once again tries to highlight how our lives control us. How the ‘man’ and his relationships have a large influence on us, and how we behave every day. Yet, even if we do find that one thing that is controlling us, we can still never really be completely free of it.
Rebirth is promoted on the internet as a place with positive energy, and engaging self-help programs to bring out your true freed self. This two day event takes place in a dank compound basement. All attendees are taken to this mysterious place in a bus, blindfolded and guided by a woman in a suit named Naomi(Nicky Whelan). When Kyle reaches, he finds himself surrounded by people in a large room. A speaker takes the stage and instigates the crowd by detailing how everyone should rise up and leave their unchanging, dull life. How they should embrace what they truly are and explore unlimited possibilities. This gets the crowd riled up and chanting ‘We are not a cult!’. The basement reveals to be a myriad of doors. Every time Kyle tries a door, he sees different settings. One room is full of people meditating and relaxing. Another had them fighting with each other, and yet another where someone is getting tortured. He also finds a pillow-filled chamber with people exploring their sexual desires. Kyle gets alternately influenced and intimidated by the talks of self-empowerment amongst the other Rebirth-ers and the different experiences he witnesses. Everyone keeps telling him to try another door to find his true self. However, every door he opens seems a wrong door. He tries to communicate with Naomi, but all his questions are answered with more cryptic questions. She tries to distract him from finding answers about Rebirth with sex and other desires. Every time he gets entranced in any experience, he seems to hear people screaming through the walls saying that they want to get out. This reminds him that he has to leave this place. The more doors he tries, the more desperate he gets to find the exit. He gets convinced that if he can resist Naomi and all the other experiences, he will be able to escape from Rebirth once and for all.

The contrast between Kyle and Zack’s characters adds a good dynamic to the movie. Zack’s personality is the one that Kyle is hoping to open up to. His initial calm, patient personality begins to crack as he starts getting entranced and then frustrated with his surroundings. He becomes irritable and impatient as he strives to make sense of what is happening. His constant confusion and desperate escape attempts are felt and lived by the viewer. Although this should be marked down as a plus point for the storytelling, in this case, it works against the movie experience. You are not able to make sense of what the movie is trying to tell and Kyle’s attempts to escape feel like repetitive incidents. Rebirth leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions and open strings. The reason for Zack to convince Kyle to go to a place like Rebirth is left open to suggestion. The happenings at the event and how they are helping an individual self-empower, or what Kyle was supposed to gain from coming here.

Rebirth is not a great film, but it is not a bad movie either. The drama and thriller elements work together as a nice package, but none of them work well enough to stand out on their own. The story starts getting predictable and the thrill eventually dies out. Fran and Adam’s acting is really commendable and the film settings are quite nice, but overall the movie just does not leave an impact.

Jason Davis
 

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