Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Movie – Timecrimes (2007)

Of the four Time Travel on a Budget movies I’ve recommended so far, Timecrimes is the one that spent the most money – all of 2.6 million dollars.  It’s also the one that heads into the darkest territory so far, although an upcoming recommendation will match it.  Unlike Safety Not Guaranteed, Primer, and 11 Minutes Ago, Timecrimes is not a movie shown from the perspective of the people who are inventing time travel devices.  Instead, it focuses on a regular man who accidentally gets caught up in a time loop that he may never find his way out of, at least not as the same man he was before he started.  It would be fair to say that this movie has some gothic horror elements to it.

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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  1. I enjoyed this movie well enough, but not quite enough to love it. I generally dislike time travel films because of the inherent paradox it involves.

    I can't fault this one for execution--I more have problems with it because it's a genre I don't love.

    1. I'm kind of surprised you saw it, actually. Did the marketing, which made it look more like a horror film, draw you in?

  2. Really enjoyed this one myself, especially as the trailer makes it look almost slasher-like which it of course isnt.

    Good call on the Heinlein stories which I actually only recently read and didn't make the connection.

    1. Many time travel stories in movies focus on altering events that have already occurred. I liked the Heinlein stories since it showed that the same person kept interacting with himself over and over, especially in All You Zombies - now there was a bit of a mindbender. And the question All You Zombies asked at the end - where did this character come from - was a great one.

    2. Yes! All You Zombies is right up there as one of my favourite Heinlein stories for that very reason.

  3. I really enjoyed the jigsaw puzzle plot this movie had.