November 9, 2011

Movie Review: TiMER

So, following all of those horror movies I watched in October, I decided I wanted to cleanse the palate a little bit by taking a trip to another genre. You know how it is, I filled my eyes up with so much blood, gore, and general darkness that, despite my desire to watch a lot more of that stuff, I needed something lighter to give my mind some perspective. Unless you want me to just snap and start swinging that axe until.... Well, I think you understand. In any case, my perusing of Netflix led me to this sci-fi themed romcom. My choice was made.

The movie is called TiMER. It is a romantic comedy set in the near future, or an alternate universe, I am not sure we are told. The premise tells us of an implanted chip and display that goes in your wrist and has a countdown. The displayed time is how much will pass until you meet "the one," your soulmate whom you are destined to spend your life with. The only problem is that both halves of the equation need travel had the device implanted for it to work.

At the center of this story is Oona (Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Emma Caulfield). She is a thirty year old orthodontist who is I love with love and desperate to find her one. The problem is that her clock links like an unprogrammed VCR (remember those?). This means her other half has not had a timer put on yet. She pines for love, taking potential suitors to get their timer up on and then leaving them when hers doesn't turn on. Meanwhile, her stepsister and best friend, Steph (Michelle Borth), has more than a decade to go on her clock and fills her time with anonymous sexual encounters.

Things do take a turn when she meets Mikey (John Patrick Amedori), a drummer for a local band, whose clock still has months to go. The two strike up a relationship and pretty soon the big questions come into play. Should she waste her time with someone whose future relationship has already been decided for her? Should she risk getting hurt by getting in deeper with him? Is she wasting her time waiting for her clock to start? Should she forego the timer and do things he old fashioned way?

There are some interesting questions and dilemmas to be dealt with her. It is all told in a rather simple fashion of a fest time filmmaker. As it turns out, this is the debut film for writer/director Jac Schaeffer. Her stye is not a very usual one, rather it seems her writing is the stand out element. It is not perfect, at times it feels a touch strained and shallow, as if it is too timid to reach for something special. The movie seems content to toe the line and be a sweet and intriguing story that is easy to like and hard to truly love.

I really liked the ideas at work here. The timers seem to take all of the human element out of love. Is that really the direction we are heading? I certainly hope not. The science behind it could be interesting, checking blood chemistry to recognize how hormones and such react. No idea how it comes up with the timeline, but so be it.

Everything is held together by the performance of Emma Caulfield. She brings a likable and sweet character to the screen. Someone who is blinded with the idea of love, but afraid to explore possibilities. She is shackled by the timer, pinning her hopes and dreams on a product rather than trusting and believing in herself.

This is the sort of material that seems to be inspired by the work of Andrew Niccol. Well, maybe not inspired by, but it certainly feels like his sort of story. It would be interesting to see what his take on it would be.

In the end this is something of a trifle. It is a good idea with a pretty good script that is nice to watch but doesn't get to that next level where it really digs into your grey matter. Still, it did make a nice diversion from my love of horror. It is certainly worth spending a little time with.


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