Review: TimeCrimes

8 10

PLOT: Hector (Karra Elejalde) is an ordinary man trying to relax on a very ordinary day in the yard of his new home in the Spanish countryside. But this comfy relaxation time soon veers into Hitchcock territory when he spots - via binoculars - a naked girl in the woods, who disappears just as quickly as she popped up. Curious, he goes looking for her, and finds himself confronted by her unconscious body and worse - a frightening, scissor-wielding figure whose head is wrapped in bloody bandages. Hector flees, finding shelter in a strange laboratory inhabited by a young scientist, who insists Hector hide in a large, liquid-filled cylinder. Said cylinder just happens to be a time machine, and Hector's day is about to get a whole lot worse.

REVIEW: TIMECRIMES can't be shoehorned into any one particular genre, which of course is never a bad thing - especially when it's playing in fields like these. (There's also no way of further describing the plot without spoiling the movie's many delicious twists, so I won't.) The time-travel angle is certainly sci-fi, and indeed one could imagine Rod Serling or Richard Matheson spinning this twisted tale, but it also has those writers' fondness for sci-fi-as-suspense device. The time-machine is mostly just a means to set-up director Nacho Vigalondo's methodical suspense sequences, some of which escalate into horror movie territory (the "bandaged man" has all the makings of a slasher flick villain, although this movie is way too smart to simply make him a faceless maniac.) There are ample helpings of voyeuristic thriller, murder mystery (and its sub-genre, "the disappearing body" mystery), and race-against-the-clock suspenser. Hell, it even gets downright somber sometimes. In case you can't get the hint, TIMECRIMES will be catnip for lovers of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, as well as people looking for an imaginative Hitchcockian riff on what we see and what we THINK we see...

It's also the rare time-travel movie where you're not compelled to pick apart the ins and outs of the phenomena (the TERMINATOR and BACK TO THE FUTURE franchises - while including great movies - demand dissection of their weaving timelines). You just go with the flow, as our protagonist does, and it all makes some kind of strange sense. (Well, as much sense as something like this can make, anyway.) The movie piles on complications and twists for our dogged hero, where no detail is minor and every decision is crucial, but you also don't have to watch it with a magnifying glass and a flow chart. It respects the audience, and we in turn respect it, as we're rewarded with multiple "Ooohhhh!" moments throughout... All that said, a second viewing will clarify things even more, and I personally can't wait to see it again.

Also adding to the intrigue is the "real time" feel of the flick, if that makes sense. Despite the time-traveling going on, it all feels in the moment, like we're not missing a thing. There's more than meets the eye, we find out time and time again, but by the end of TIMECRIMES, it feels like we've been with Hector through every exhausting step of his tumultuous journey (or journeys)... A funny thing about Elejalde's performance is that he's more exasperated than anything; most of us would be in a perpetual state of awe during this fantastical, freaky experience, but Elejalde's Hector just wants to get it over with. And the more he tries, the more work he cuts out for himself... Elejalde is great casting, by the way, because of how ordinary he is. With all due respect to the actor, the man isn't very attractive and doesn't possess a dynamic personality, which makes his plight even more sympathetic in a weird way - this is truly an "everyman" going through this insane ordeal, even as his fate may have already been mapped out for him. (If the proposed remake is faithful in this regard, picture a Paul Giamatti and not a Clive Owen.) Director Vigalondo plays the suspicious young scientist who gets caught up in Hector's "adventure" and while perhaps a more nuanced actor would have made the character more intriguing, the young man doesn't embarrass himself. He should probably stay behind the camera from now on, though.

About that remake: Why? Just... why? I know we bitch about remakes all the time, but in this case, the movie is BRAND F*CKING NEW, and all you're saying when you decide to remake it is A) "Americans refuse to read subtitles so we must make it easy for them", and/or B) "We can improve upon this. Sorry Mr. Vigalondo, but you didn't get it right - thanks for the idea, though!" Insulting on both counts. I'm not saying TIMECRIMES is perfect by any means, but THIS movie IS TIMECRIMES and should get the benefit of the doubt; let it loose, give it a semi-wide release, see what happens. Good god, people just might dig it as is! (This applies to the similarly splendid LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, which is also being remade unnecessarily.)


TIMECRIMES will be released in New York and Los Angeles on DECEMBER 12th.

Source: AITH



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