STARRING: Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Bárbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo

2007, 92 Minutes, Directed by:
Nacho Vigalondo

Description: A man being pursued by a murderer stumbles into a mysterious lab and accidentally travels back in time. A naked girl in the midst of the forest. A cloaked stranger with his face covered in bandages. A disquieting mansion on the top of a hill. All of them pieces of an unpredictable jigsaw puzzle where terror, drama and suspense will lead to an unthinkable sort of crime. Who's the murderer? Who's the victim?

Timecrimes is a rare beast among contemporary sci-fi cinema – a self-contained piece where virtually nothing of the world outside the protagonists’ immediate environment is revealed. The lack of context enhances an already truly odd atmosphere which hangs over the film. There is little point in trying to understand why any of the events of the film happen. I have observed discussions in forums attempting to do just that. Amusingly, these exchanges tend to go round in circles in much the same way as the main man in the film – Héctor (played by Karra Elejalde) does throughout the course of the film. Elejalde’s performance cleverly maintains the delicate balance between the character’s desperation alongside the comedic elements, which verge on slapstick at times.

As for understanding the plot - Why should we expect to know why the events of this film occur when we don’t know why anything, ever, occurred, and unrelentingly continues to do so. Perhaps this is intentional on the writer’s part; an analogy for the biggest question there is. Why does Héctor make a goggle shape with his fingers around his eyes and stare at himself? I don’t know, and nor does he. But he has always done it, and always will. Much like the Tralfamadorians’ experience of life in Slaughterhouse 5, the implication is that everything that will happen has already happened and always will have happened. To question ‘why’ is like a fraction with a denominator of zero – meaningless.

"There is little point in trying to understand why any of the events of the film happen!"

I don’t necessarily think this was the intention of the writer (though I’d be chuffed if it were!). But that is largely irrelevant. The salient point here is that, as can now be witnessed by all; it made me think. And it did this without having to depict the end of the human race or nasty characters or monsters from hell. In fact, I found the film to be uncommonly relaxing, partly due to the fact that from relatively early on you have a pretty good idea of everything which is going to happen. I am not going to go into the details of why this is the case, though the title of the film is a pretty big clue so I can safely tell you it is somewhat similar to Primer but with less of the darkly claustrophobic atmosphere (and no cheesy montages!). If you want to find out what happens without watching it then plenty of other reviews will be able to assist you.

The flipside of that built in predictability is that there are points in the second half of the film which feel a bit pedestrian in pace. If it were not for the artful camera work and the location, which is simultaneously very normal but also engaging in its incongruity, then it could be that boredom might set in. The story does not really climax – it is more a case a leisurely stroll towards the conclusion. Still, the nature of the story is such that there is little that can be done about that and on balance, the problem is handled well. As a result of this though, it is likely that the story would not be to everyone’s taste.

I gather that there is a Hollywood remake in the works. It will be interesting to see how the challenges detailed in the previous paragraph will be approached as I imagine the studio will be keen to reach out to a mainstream audience. However, I can’t help but feel that the money spent on such ventures would be better spent on funding new features from the talent that created the work that Hollywood has obviously picked up on as being innovative. After all – Timecrimes already exists and always will do. Perhaps it always has.


- Geoff Clayton



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