Fearful Symmetry

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What's in the box

What's in the box

I came away from Primer feeling disappointed. I had read a review for it a while back and was immediately excited. Two geeks build a time machine in their garage, and it had an intelligent plot! What’s not to like? Unfortunately it turns out to be if anything too intelligent, it’s reach far outreaching its grasp. It tries to be smart, ultra-smart in fact, but ends up being dumb. The plot is almost unbelievably complicated with multiple journeys back and forwards in time that have happened before the film starts, effecting what you see now. It’s like watching one of the final iterations of Groundhog Day the first time through with no prior knowledge of the situation. You won’t have to do much surfing on the web to find complicated timelines that explain to the plot of the movie. Now, it may be just me, but if you have to go to a web site in order to understand the plot of a film them something has gone wrong somewhere.

It seems a shame that they did not go the extra mile and added another half an hour to the film (it’s running time is only 70 minutes) to explore what was happening in greater detail and give some clues to us mortal viewers. Film makers, especially inexperienced ones, often forget that although they will have gone over the plot of their film dozens, if not hundreds of times, the normal viewer is only going to watch it once. The big ‘twists’ are easy enough to understand, but I defy anyone to understand the minutia of events, especially towards the end on first viewing. The wooden acting of the principals does not help much either. There’s some interesting character developments going on in the writing but very little of it comes over on screen – the characters seem just as dull and nerdy at the end as they are at the beginning.

It’s very frustrating because the garage start-up company situation is very well depicted and there are sparks of brilliance in the script. There’s some lovely moments as the machine is developed and the ‘t’-words (‘time travel’) are never mentioned as its workings are explained. And who could not love: “Are you hungry? I haven’t eaten since later this afternoon.”?

I’ll be keeping an eye out for the director in the future. I hope he can go on to make an equally interesting project, but one where the ambition is within his abilities.


Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 8, 2009 at 9:57 am

Posted in Review

Tagged with , , ,

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