Timecrimes Movie Review

If offered, it's a safe bet that not a single one of us would turn down the possibility of going back in time, especially to right a wrong that may have been committed. Such a concept is the foundation for many a piece of speculative entertainment, from the "enterprising" adventures of a certain starship to an earnest teenager's attempt to change his parents' loser lot in life. Most of these corrections aren't earth shattering, though quite a few end up changing things in ways unexpected and irreversible. A new film from Spain, Timecrimes, wants to bring the whole cosmic idea down to a realistic, insular level. The result is a crackling thriller with enough invention to suggest something quite special.

Hector (Karra Elejalde) is hungry. His wife Clara (Candela Fernández) is unwilling to make dinner. As she heads out to get some takeaway, he grabs the binoculars and looks out at the forest across from his property. There he sees a young girl (Bárbara Goenaga) removing her clothes. Hiking over to catch a better look, he is attacked by a man whose face is wrapped in blood-soaked bandages. Injured, Hector comes across a building, and a walkie-talkie. On the other end is Chico (Nacho Vigalondo) and he has some bad news -- the mystery assailant is hot on Hector's trail. Suggesting that he come up to the silo lab where he is hiding, our hero suddenly finds himself immersed in a milky liquid in a strange machine. A single jolt later, and Hector has traveled back in time -- a single day -- where he learns from Chico that he must thwart his own future actions to keep the fabric of reality from unraveling.

Timecrimes is like the sci-fi version of Philipe Petit, the circus street performer from Paris who became an overnight sensation when he tightrope-walked between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Every step of that Man on Wire stunt, from its conception to execution, had to work flawlessly, lest Petit be left several thousand feet up without a net to catch him. It's the same kind of puzzle-box perfection that threatens to destroy writer/director/co-star Nacho Vigalondo's vision of a time travel movie. Because the storyline is so simple and the parallel reality plot points so tenuous, the slightest mistake means disaster for all involved.

Luckily, Vigalondo has a very strong sense of the cinematic. Hector's initial curiosity mirrors the audience's interest level, the viewer slowly introduced to the dilemma the characters will face. By the time our hero's gone back in time not once, but twice, we want to know where this is all headed. As the complications are exposed and the conundrums pile up, Vigalondo never misses a beat. Like an expert magician and his most audacious trick, or a juggler trying to keep several balls in the air, he must balance expectations with his own abilities. By keeping the cast down to a bare minimum (four) and repeating the important parts of each new revision in the story, Timecrimes stays centered.

The result is something truly unusual -- a time travel film that doesn't feel forced or overly illogical. There are still times during Hector's trio of trips where we scratch our heads over perceived fallacies, but the movie appears to anticipate them, and then offers up rational and realistic answers. While many might balk at the notion of science subverted for what ends up being one man's personal problems, there's no denying Vigalondo's skill as a storyteller. Here's hoping that the inevitable American remake (rumored to be helmed by Canadian master David Cronenberg himself) can live up to the devilish delights manufactured here.

Aka Los Cronocrímenes.

Some crimes can never be repaired.

Cast & Crew

Director : Nacho Vigalondo

Producer : Eduardo Carneros, Jorge Gómez

Starring : , Bárbara Goenaga, Candela Fernández, Nacho Vigalondo


Comments

Timecrimes Rating

" Good "

Rating: R, 2007

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