Normally I post a couple of reviews together but after seeing this film tonight I knew I couldn’t sit on this one. Submitted for your approval, I give you Time Lapse!
dir: Bradley King
runtime: 104 min
What would you do if you could send a message twenty four hours into your past? Would you send warnings to try and benefit all humankind…. Or would you immediately use the power to make yourself rich? I suspect the latter and that’s exactly the choice made by the three unlucky roommates in this superb new film from writer/director Bradley King and writer B.P. Cooper.
Finn is a frustrated painter and property manager, sharing a house with his girlfriend Callie and his best friend Jasper. One day they’re alerted to the fact that the tenant across the way has not been missing for a week and, thinking him dead, they investigate his house. Instead of finding him they find a large camera-machine pointed right at their own living room. On one wall is covered with months’ worth of photos of them and incredibly there’s a photo waiting for them from tomorrow. It seems that every night at 8 PM the camera takes a photo and spits out the Polaroid from the next day. Eventually they find the neighbor burned up in his storage unit; evidently the victim of his own attempts to change his future. Rather than report the death to the police, the trio choose to lock the unit and use the machine to send themselves dog racing results from the future.
That’s right, they essentially choose to follow Marty Mcfly’s scheme from Back to the Future Part 2 and it works out even less well for them. Without getting into spoilers it’s safe to say I was expecting their plan to turn disastrous. What I was not expecting was how brilliantly this plot would unfold; the writing, acting, and direction are simply astounding. The film twists and turns and offers ironic consequences that make it play out like a feature length Twilight Zone; one of the really good episodes. The time element is not overly complex; you won’t need to diagram the movie afterward to know what happened.
The story is smart and layered and the filmmakers do a great job of questioning the morality of fiddling with the past without lots of preachy, techy exposition. Imagine the questions that arise from seeing a photo of you from tomorrow. How did you get there? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Do you have the ability to change and do something different? Finn, Callie, and Jasper have to grapple with those questions right from the start. These characters are normal people who have been given something of immense power and are in no way prepared to handle it. Every time a new picture emerges there’s a ‘hold your breath’ moment of what terrible fate may await them.
This is stunning film that kept my attention much the way Memento did the first time I saw it (hmmm, Polaroid connection?) and I think it’s going to be one of the best of this festival season. It is powerful and gripping, purely on the merits of the tale and the strong performances by the relatively small cast. Absolutely make time for Time Lapse; if you enjoy genre films you will not regret it.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.