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Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes)
Made in: Spain
Synopsis: When Marty McFly went back to 1955, it caused all kinds of trouble. But in the 21st Century, Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo proves that traveling back in time just one hour is enough to cause all sorts of head-spinning shenanigans without having to tell the story as a trilogy.
In Vigalondo’s first feature-length film, Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes), we follow the fate of Hector (Karra Elejalde), an ordinary guy who has moved into a house in the middle of nowhere in northern Spain. He lives there with his carefree, devoted wife, Clara (Candela Fernández), and seems to be pretty easygoing.
While sitting in his backyard late one afternoon, Hector passes the time looking around the surrounding woods through a pair of binoculars. He spies a nude, unconscious woman in the bushes somewhere, and decides to investigate (who wouldn’t?). But before he can summon help for her, Hector is viciously attacked by a man in a dark coat.
The assailant’s face is covered in a bloody bandage, and looks a little bit like the invisible man from James Whale’s 1933 classic. Hector runs for his life, enters a mysterious building, and unwittingly steps into a time machine invented by a young scientist (played by Nacho Vigalondo himself).
Hector is zapped back in time a few hours. While trying to fight his way out of a time loop that quickly gets out of hand, he encounters his double, and then his triple. But is there a way out of the string of violent events, or is Hector causing all the trouble by his very attempt to escape it?
The Good: Timecrimes is an intriguing time travel movie which proves that a strong story and script are at the core of any successful film. The sets are simple, the budget seems to be lower than a turtle’s blood pressure, and the actors are largely unknown (but good). Yet this is a thriller that offers as much excitement as any high-concept blockbuster featuring an over-paid cast.
The film has a raw look to it that makes it seem like it was shot in the 70s or early 80s, but it actually works to give the whole story a “down-to-earth” feel. It’s tightly written, fast-paced, and stays focused without any extraneous details.
The Bad: My only issue with Timecrimes is the same problem I had with the overall time travel premise of Terminator 2: How did the time loop start in the first place? Also, I wished that the movie had an ending that wasn’t so abrupt.
Who would like this movie: Timecrimes is for you if you enjoy foreign films, and independent films in general. Fans of science fiction and time travel storylines will also appreciate this movie, but with its realistic look and ordinary characters, it should have some crossover appeal to those who aren’t normally into sci-fi. It’s a simple but ingeniously made mind-bender.
(3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Karra Elejalde, Nacho Vigalondo, Bárbara Goenaga, Candela Fernández
By Joe Yang