Timecrimes (2007) movie poster

(2007) dir. Nacho Vigalondo
viewed: 04/10/09

Stumbled upon, I think, because it blew through San Francisco theaters a few months ago, I must have queued this film up.  It’s a Spanish Science Fiction film, a time travel thriller, low-budget-ish, I’d say, smarter than the average bear.  Not smart enough to achieve true brilliance, but a decent thriller, more thoughtful than many.

A man who is just moving into a rural Spanish home, discovers a semi-nude woman in the woods, and goes to investigate.  The next thing he knows, he’s being tracked by a masked man in a trenchcoat with a pair of stabbing scissors, and zapped back in time by a handful of hours.  It’s handled in a compelling and efficient manner.

Time travel is a trippy subject when handled correctly, and though there is really no connection, 2004’s small budget Primer also tackled the sort of head-trippy narrative qualities of time travel creating multiple instances of an individual and the havoc that that can potentially create.  Timecrimes is definitely set in a finite little universe, like Primer, but handles the drama and suspense in a fairly engaging way.

However, plausibility is a problem.  I know that if you have a plausibility issue with time travel, you’re going to have plausibility issues all over the place with this film.  But for me, the plausibility is more in the characters’ decisions and actions, which start on a normal plain, but swiftly switch to actions that help the narrative but don’t make a lot of sense.  Like why just assume that now you’ve got to play along with the story, just because you think it happened this way the first time through.

Actually, one of the more interesting ideas that sprung to mind while watching the film was the concept of fatalism within the film.  Once the original set of circumstances have played out, does the protagonist “have” to follow the script?  Isn’t fatalism going to drive him that way anyways?  I mean, what sets this whole thing into motion initially?  Is it because it’s already happened and it’s just time to watch through the film’s second camera, the other angle of the scene previously played out as the primary narrative?

Nacho Vigalondo, who wrote, directed, and plays one of the key characters in the film, seems to have almost hit the nail on the head here.  It’s a close enough sort of thing that makes for an interesting film, but it does lose some credibility in its illogic.  And this illogic is more in how the characters act rather than the entirety of the story.

It’s a decent discovery, a director to keep an eye out for, but not the next coming of Christopher Nolan.

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