SXSW Film Review: Resynator (Alison Tavel, 2024)

There’s a scene early on in Reysnator wherein Alison Tavel, the film’s director and protagonist, visits Mike Beigel, a friend of her late father Don who helped him in engineering the Resynator synthesizer. She visits Beigel to discuss her father’s invention, but also comes to him in the hope that he can resurrect the long dormant piece of tech that’s been hidden away in her grandmother’s attic for many years. As he works to put together the pieces and see what can be salvaged, it’s easy to see it as a metaphor for Tavel’s other task in the film – to put together the pieces of the late Don Tavel’s life and attempt to make a connection to the father she never knew.

WIth Don dying in a car accident when she was only 10 weeks old, it’s not surprising that his daughter Alison would want to learn more about her father and his invention. It’s also unsurprising that in her quest to learn more about her father’s musical legacy, she ultimately ends up learning a lot more about the man himself.

It’s an emotional journey, and at times a heavy one, but as Tavel learns more about her father, both good and bad, there are also many joyful moments as she takes the resurrected Resynator out on the road to test it out with various musicians, including Systema Solar, Money Mark, and Fred Armisen.

If one were to apply the hero’s journey framework to Alison’s story, then Peter Gabriel’s appearance near the end of the film would seem to fill the role of the wise sage who offers her advice and guidance and helps her along in her quest to learn more about her father and his legacy.

It’s interesting that Gabriel, who showed early interest in the Resynator back in the day, says very little on the topic of the synth itself. Rather, he gets to the heart of the matter, asking Tavel whether she’s learned more about her father “… ’cause that’s the important part of this journey.”

Indeed, in her quest to learn more about her father, Tavel does end up forming a close connection of sorts with Don, despite never really knowing him. In making that connection to her past, she ultimately gains a deeper understanding of herself.

Posted on by Paul in Movies, South By Southwest