dir. Nacho Vigalondo
Along with Shane Carruth's masterpiece of low-budget film-making, Primer, Nacho Vigalondo's Spanish feature Timecrimes is one of the few time travel films not to be riddled with contradictions, improbabilities, and the like. [At least I don't think Primer was full of contradictions. As much as I appreciated it, it left me rather confused.] Indeed, one of the joys of Nacho's feature, is piecing together all of the past, present, and future events happening concurrently. Unlike other examples of the genre, Nacho's story is weighted with inevitability. I guess it goes to that whole grandfather paradox—you can't very well go back in time to kill your grandfather because then you wouldn't exist, meaning you wouldn't be able to kill him. Although someone going back in time may think he will change certain events, the mere fact that he travels to the past means that he already took part in this event. [My brain is starting to hurt.] Of course, I ain't much of a science person and don't know diddly about time travel theory, so I can't attest to the veracity of Nacho's take on the subject, but it seems correct enough.
Seeing as this is a film in which every seemingly minor moment is so carefully thought out and in which every event is laced with sometimes surprising meaning, I will keep my plot description brief so as to avoid being spoilery. Middle aged couple Hector (Karra Elejalde) and Clara (Candela Fernandez) arrive at a summer home and lounge around. When Clara drives to town, Hector is left to lounge around by himself (translation: it's peeping tom time). After spying on a nekid lady (Barbara Goenaga), he decides to go off into the woods to take a closer peek. Here a scissor wielding masked man pursues Hector, who escapes into a science facility. He is told by the man who works here (the director Nacho himself) to hide in a vat full of white liquid. Hector jumps in, travels a few hours back in time, and shenanigans ensue. Although, at times we are a couple steps ahead of Hector, Nacho does manage to throw in a few interesting surprises to keep us on our toes.
If Timecrimes can be faulted with anything, it is its clinical, cerebral structuring. Because so much of the focus of the screenplay is on the mechanics of the structure, the characters sometimes feel like plot devices. This is often the case with other such jigsaw puzzle structured films. Once you know the twists and whatnot you're less inclined to revisit these movies. The sorts of films I tend to revisit, anyway, are the more character-centric fare. Of course, even if jigsaw puzzle films don't have much replay value, they are always a treat the first couple times through.
Incidentally, Timecrimes is slated for an American remake in 2011. Nacho's film is so well-structured that any minor plot change could cause a ripple effect, rendering the rest of the film incomprehensible. Thus a remake would have to keep the entire thing intact, save for the language in which it's spoken. If this inevitable remake ain't the definition of unnecessary, I don't know what is.
[The trailer [Warning: this is somewhat spoilery]:]