Primer (2004) movie poster

(2004) dir. Shane Carruth
viewed: 11/18/2005

Pretty interesting little indie sci-fi flick made on the cheap. Its cleverness and inventiveness is almost done in in the latter part of the film where narrative elipses gape wide open to the point where it’s virtually impossible to follow what is going on. It’s a little Memento (2000)-esque, or tries to be, wherein the narrative complexity is supposed to make the viewer “think” or re-watch the film to gain greater understanding of the narrative. In this case, however, it’s really that director/writer/star Shane Carruth is simply not giving all of the narrative points away and mixing more elements of narrative complexity with the multiple versions of the characters and versions of reality as the characters go back in time over and again to the point that it’s hard to know where one is at. There is a clever complexity inside the story, but the film tries to make it more difficult to understand seemingly just for the sake of it. Frankly, it’s a bit frustrating.

That said, it has enough qualities and is compellingly interesting enough to merit quite a bit on its own. I would almost say that it succeeds despite its ending, though it is definitely diminished by what is ultimately a narrative style approach rather than anything else. An worthwhile effort, it will be interesting to see what Carruth does next.

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