January 17, 2014

Critical Capsule: Timecrimes

So, last night I watched a little movie called Timecrimes (Los cronocrimenes). Wow. It is the sort of movie I think I will need to watch a few (if not more) more times to get close to figuring out what happened, but I felt the need to share with you that I saw it and implore you to check it out. I know I have some friends who balk at the idea of subtitles and to you I say “Get over it!” While I like having the option, the best way to experience a foreign film is in its own language. Well, back to the movie at hand. While I do not think Timecrimes is necessarily a great film, it is one that is exceeding spectacular in its construction.

Timecrimes is a time travel film that sets its rules and plays by them, thus creating this self contained loop that will ultimately give you a migraine if you think about it for too long. It is a movie that twists back on itself, creating an inescapable paradox. It is a movie where the less you know going in initially is good advice, yet upon gaining that initial knowledge will reward multiple viewings as the layers get revealed. It feels initially simple, but it is very sneaky and deceptive and becomes ever complex, adding bits and perspective and pieces to a very murky puzzle.

This is a movie that treats time as a single thread, it is not the Back to the Future style of time travel. There are no alternate timelines, just one flow of time and what happens happened. The tale starts out innocently enough, a guy is sitting in his backyard and spies a young woman in the woods. He goes to investigate and is attacked by a guy wrapped in bandages, this leads to a house and a time machine. This I where things begin to get interesting and will leave you wondering just how it manages to start.

At the outset, you accept what you see, but then the layers come in and it all gets a bit murkier. Where does the thing actually begin? Or better, how? It is certainly migraine inducing.

Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo has crafted a fine movie that works as an exercise in time travel. It is engrossing, complex, simple, and just flat out entertaining. It is carefully constructed with all manner of pieces in just the right place keeping it all on track. What happens happened and cannot be undone, the perspectives add context yet also keeps it maddeningly obtuse. If there is any complaint, it is that the main character is a bit of a jerk. I do not require a traditional hero character, but it would have been nice to like him.

Bottom line is that you really should see Timecrimes, let its fascinating structure unfold over you. Just remember to pay attention in order to keep up.

Highly Recommended.

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