Review: Timecrimes (Spain, AKV Entertainment)

One of the more odd theories to come out of recent speculation into multiple universes is the idea that there may be enough dimensions so that, somewhere, everything happens:

You took a left instead of a right, you became a famous novelist, you bought the good car instead of the shitty one, etc. That would take the pressure off decision-making, no?

Timecrimes is not about multiple dimensions, but it is about how, literally in this case, conflicts can between competing versions of the self can be as complicated and fraught with competition as those involving many people. One can be victim, hero, mastermind and fly in the ointment all at once.

Karra Elejalde plays Hector, an absent-minded everyman who moves into a new house in the Spanish countryside with his wife (Candela Fernandez). While unpacking, the phone rings, though no one has their number yet. Hector redials using caller ID, and is told by an automated voice that he has reached a private number and to not call again. Soon after, they sit out in the yard taking in the quiet. Hector does, however, have a pair of binoculars, through which he spots a naked woman in the woods behind the house. His wife leaves for the market, which gives Hector a chance to investigate. He finds the woman laying against a rock, but before he can get close enough to see if she is still alive, he is attacked by a man whose face is covered in bloody gauze. While on the run away from the scene, Hector chances upon a building which he breaks into for safety. He meets a young man (the film's writer and director, Nacho Vigalondo) who offers to help hide him--in an untested time machine. He emerges from the machine (covered vat filled with what looks like milk) seemingly within seconds. But there is now a problem. The man emerging from the time machine is not Hector: he is Hector 2. Soon we learn of a third Hector, all living in the same real time, but each about ten minutes apart from the actions of the day that threaten to upend Hector 1's life, unless he can outwit the other Hectors and eliminate them, leaving only a whole self.

This is a confusing, funny and poignant meditation on how we are our own worst enemies, and how events and lives are often a hair's length away from being totally different. Choices not taken may echo as long as those we do make.

With its mixture of sci-fi, madcap mystery and surrealism, Timecrimes packs quite a punch for a low-budget film. Vigalondo's direction keeps the story grounded and oddly, matter-of-factly plausible, even in its most outrageous twists and turns. To explain the plot fully would be to give the ending away. This is a great little gem that you need to see, and figure out, for yourself.

Nacho Vigalondo diagrams chaos.

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