When I say that Primer requires a second viewing to fully understand it, I don't necessarily mean it as a compliment. This is blasphemy for a low-budget sci-fi head trip like this one. Desperately needing a second viewing is supposed to be half the fun of watching, not to mention almost all of the self-satisfaction of telling your friend that he just didn't get it. But Primer is deliberately hard to follow -- less in what happens than why it's happening; less in its science than in its fiction.
The film's opening is the pleasureable kind of confusion; we're immersed in scrappy, restless invention. Aaron (Shane Carruth, also the writer and director) and Abe (David Sullivan) are engineers tinkering around in a garage, hoping to come up with the next big invention. Through circumstances I am gladly ill-equipped to explain, they invent a device -- a box -- that can propel them back in time. Not months or years, mind you, but just a few hours or however long you want to spend inside: The effect is not instantaneous transport but rather moving backward three or four hours as the world moves forward.
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