★ ★ ★ ★
I will be the first to admit that I am a sucker for movies that deal with time travel. Ever since I was a child the concept has interested me and I am always immediately drawn to watch any movie, read any book or play any video game that revolves around the idea. When I was cued in to this movie from a co-worker, I immediately put it on my instant queue on Netflix and am very glad I did.
The film is the debut feature from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, who had previously received an Oscar nomination for his short musical film 7:35 a.m. (which is conveniently located in the Special Features section of this film in its entirety). The story focuses on the character of Hector who has just bought a new home in the Spanish countryside with his wife Clara. When Clara goes to get groceries from the local store, Hector is left sitting in the back yard with his binoculars looking over the lush, mountainous landscape. Something he spots through his binoculars leads him to further investigation which, in turn, spawns a series of events that lead him to a research facility containing a time machine. Without giving too much away, the film contains many intricacies dealing with the problems of time travel, primarily the causation paradox.
Being a primarily plot-based film, character building is minimal. However, for the type of film that it is, I didn’t feel like it detracted much from my viewing experience. Films that deal with dreams, time travel or other complex happenings have to spend a certain amount of running time explaining the theory behind the plot motivation and, to me, this almost becomes a character in itself. And, let’s face it, when we go to see or rent a film that deals with one of these complex topics, we are specifically watching for the mind bending phenomena of the plot, so it’s hard pressed for me to get too excited about two dimensional characters.
Timecrimes is a low budget feature. There is nothing really flashy about the photography, set design or locations. It’s a breath of fresh air in this era of filmmaking to see something that is organic like this though. Everything you need for the story to be conveyed is in place and works smoothly without extra millions being thrown into digital effects. Granted, I strongly oppose most digital effects in movies unless it is absolutely pertinent to the telling of the story. I feel too many films over the past 10 years have worried more about their effects value then about how well the story structure evolves.
In conclusion, if you get a chance to catch this one, I would definitely recommend it. If you are a time travel junkie like myself, then it is a must see and you need to sign on to Netflix or go by the local video store and get it right now. Vigalondo’s sophomore effort will be coming out soon entitled Extraterrestre. I hope this budding director continues to make films as good as this one, because if so, then he’ll definitely be someone to keep an eye on over the next few years.