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With a title like Rewind, it’s no surprise that tonight’s Capital Irish Film Festival screening is awfully preoccupied with the past.

The P.J. Dillon-directed drama follows Karen (Amy Huberman), a recovering addict who settled down after a scam-filled youth, as she’s thrown into a forced reunion with Karl (Downton Abbey‘s Allen Leech), an old flame who’s just out of prison and not ready to give her up to upper-middle-class comfort. Karen wants no part of his company, but Karl forces her hand with some grim news about a old videotape showing her doing some very bad things; it’s still around, and it’s in the hands of a guy even scummier than he.

What follows over the next hour is a slow boil, not quite melodramatic but never entirely justified in its high anxiety, either. The problem ain’t the leads, though—-Huberman, a sloe-eyed gal with a killer tortured frown, steams opposite Leech’s coarse, intimidating performance. If you’re looking for blame, go no further than Dillon’s emphasis on dreary visuals. (Perhaps his style is better suited for something like HBO’s Game of Thrones, which he worked on as a cinematographer.) Rewind smacks of depressed crisis too hard, too soon; Without enough context in those early scenes, it only telegraphs hollow sensitivity. After Karen’s life is fleshed out, though, all those soft-focus shots and muted overcoats finally start to pay off—-the closing scenes, in particular, cash in on that credit beautifully.

And that, even if it’s accidental, circles back in a tidy way to Rewind‘s fundamental concern—-if our pasts are ourselves, what does it mean to change?

The film shows tonight at 7 p.m. at E Street Cinema. $10.

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