Saturday, January 19, 2008

Time Crimes

Sundance 2008
★ ★

While introducing Time Crimes (Los Cronocrimenes, for the bi-lingual among us), director Nacho Vigalondo said that he thought this was the first ever Spanish time-travel movie. More accurately, this was the first Spanish bigger-budget variation of Sundance 2005’s Primer.

Hector appears to be living a happy and contented life in their new house with his pretty and affectionate wife Clara, when one day he spies through his binoculars a woman in the woods in the act of undressing. When Clara leaves, Hector goes off to investigate. And there the fun begins, as Hector’s quest thrusts him into an adventure that includes the discovery of a time machine, and a dogged quest to unravel its effects.

If you like mind game movies like Memento or the even harder to follow Primer, then Time Crimes will have some appeal. And while the movie does have some time-twisting inconsistencies, it generally ties the loose ends into a knotty, if not absurd conclusion. The story moves along briskly, requiring intellectual energy to keep up (especially with sub-titles) and a forgiving attitude to a few ridiculous devices. Fortunately, there is an occasional and welcome infusion of humor that makes some of the cheesier elements a little easier to swallow. But somehow, the whole thing felt more like a Twilight Zone episode stretched into a feature-length flick. Fortunately, like most Twilight Zone episodes, this one had a great ending. I just loved the final shot, which is quaintly ironic, although it will leave some viewers unsatisfied, I am sure.

Sundance Moment: In the post-movie Q&A, Vigalondo said that after editing, he realized what it really was—a love triangle story. My reaction was “Huh? Did I watch the right movie?”

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