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Cinema

Time out of Mind.

What would you do if you had a time machine, albeit one that only lets you travel backward for as long as you’re willing to sit in a souped-up cardboard box? Well, chances are a lot of us may end up taking a page from Abe and Aaron, the two well-dressed, Wired-subscribing, jargon-spouting, and thoroughly scientifical protagonists of Primer. Find a way to impress your friends, make a quick buck on the stock market, that type of thing. But, frankly, figuring out what to do is the least of your problems, because pretty soon you might have other ideas, in which case you’ll get in the way, and then you’ll have to be taken care of.

Confused? Not as confused as you’ll be after leaving this intriguing and perplexing sci-fi flick. Written, directed, produced and acted in by Shane Carruth on a purported budget of $7000, Primer flaunts its incomprehensibility from the get-go, as Abe and Aaron speak in technobabble riddles while cannibalizing their home appliances to construct a strange device in the latter’s garage. Soon enough, they discover their bizarre gravity-defying invention can run without batteries for a time and has a strange side-effect on weebles, one that might have some interesting and remunerative real-world applications…

And then things get really confusing, as multiple Abes and Aarons begin living out the same time period, often working at cross-purposes to each other. Seriously, with the possible exception of the MIT guys who threw the time travel conference, I don’t think anybody’s going to be able to piece together exactly what happens in this movie the first time through. But, the general inscrutability of it all is part of the atmosphere. We never really understand what’s going on, and I could see some folks getting frustrated with this film — usually, incomprehensibility is not a strong suit in movies. Still, for some reason, Primer works as a heady sci-fi tone poem about the cryptic (and dire) consequences of mucking about with the timestream. Mostly unfathomable, sure, but if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s definitely worth catching sometime…perhaps yesterday.

Discussion

One Response to “Time out of Mind.”

  1. I saw this movie back in March. I was amazed at what a good job this guy did for his budget. The commentary track was fantastic… its the first time I’ve watched a movie back to back (2nd time commentary). Very quiet… very good.

    Posted by Alan Hitt | June 19, 2005, 2:42 pm

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