Hector (Karra Elejalde) and Clara (Candela Fernandez) are a middle-aged husband and wife who have just moved to a house in the country. Hector’s day starts with his phone ringing, but no one on the other end saying anything. He heads out to enjoy a nature walk. He sees what appears to be a naked woman (Barbara Goenaga) through his binoculars, though. Curiosity piqued, he heads towards her. To his horror she appears to be dead. Before he can figure out what to do a man with a large bandage obscuring his face attacks Hector. Fearing for his life, Hector is chased into a building on a nearby farm that has all kinds of machinery, equations drawn on boards, etc. A voice instructs him that the man with the bandages is still after him and that Hector needs to take refuge in another building nearby. The inside of this building is similarly filled with exotic machinery. He hides inside what turns out to be a time machine. He ends up going back in time one hour.
The man who has built the time machine (writer/director Nacho Vigalondo) is there when Hector emerges. He does not know who Hector is. After hearing the story, he tells Hector (let’s call him Hector B from now on) that he must not interfere with his earlier self (let’s call him Hector A). Hector B can’t help himself, though. He can’t stop thinking about this earlier version of himself. Amusingly, one of the first things he obsesses over is that his wife is now with “another man” – Hector A. Hector B calls his house, but doesn’t know what to say when Hector A answers.
Hector B leaves in the inventor’s car, but sees the dead woman, who is not yet dead, riding a bike. Suddenly, another car hits his, causing him to be in a bad accident. He wraps his head with bandages to stop the bleeding. The woman on the bike stops to see if he is okay. Now realizing the role he has to play, Hector B asks the woman if she can help him with something. Without describing the plot any more, I will say that eventually Hector’s wife, as well as a Hector C, are thrown into the mix.
Fans of author Robert Heinlein will notice some similarities with his classic short stories “By His Bootstraps” and “All You Zombies”. This movie also has echoes of Robert Sheckley’s short story The Cruel Equations.
Timecrimes doesn’t get into the mechanics of time travel; it simply uses it as a way to place an ordinary man into an extraordinary situation and then allow us to see what he does. It also asks viewers some moral “what if” questions. Would you follow the same actions Hector does, or would you take a different path? Is a different path even possible? Are these events – some past and some future depending on where we are in the movie – “meant to be”?
All in all, Timecrimes is a good illustration of the paradoxes of time travel. If you like these kinds of stories, then I recommend you give this film a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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