Primer – 4 out of 5
Time travel is neat! Yes, I said “neat.” I love stories about them. Whether they involve terminators out to kill kids, Joseph Gordon-Levitts with Bruce Willis faces, Doc Browns worrying about Libyans and how things are getting “heavy” and not desiring to use roads where they are going or just a simple Time Lord in a blue box that is bigger on the inside and is out to have fun through time and space; whatever the story is, I’m a fan of time travel fiction. It’s my leaning towards this element of science fiction that had me stumble upon the 2004 film Primer.
|Wait...did I accidentally screencap The Room?|
Primer tells the tale of some young engineers trying to start up a company in their garage while working for a major corporation during the day. One day, while working on one of their projects, Aaron (writer/director Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) accidentally discover time travel. Originally, the scale for the travel was small but, after some effort, means to travel an entire person is achieved and Aaron and Abe use it to make money on the stock market (because WE ALL would). However, like all stories about time travel, the two men soon learn that playing with time creates many potential dangers…
|The dangers are so numerous that Abe can't keep his mouth closed.|
While, admittedly, Primer’s story is slow moving and lacks the usual flash and grandeur that you see in other stories about time travel (not a single Dalek or liquid metal cop in this one, gosh!), but that doesn’t mean the film is bad. Far from it. In fact, Primer might go down as the most realistic looking film about time travel I have ever seen.
|Even time in the library can't get Abe's mouth closed. Time travel is just that shocking!|
That is, until we actual discover time travel and I get to watch that shit inaction myself. Then again, Primer STILL might be more realistic.
Primer isn’t without its fair share of problems. The acting isn’t great and the quality of the visuals you get looks slightly better than the video you would get from an old cell phone—not to mention the film moves very slowly and those looking for the usual thrills from a tale that involves time travel might get bored watching it. Hell, I’m not going to lie; I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it through the film because of these short comings but, I stuck with it and reminded myself that this film wasn’t crafted by a major studio and came with a very low budget (according to Wikipedia, it only cost seven grand to make), and keeping this in mind, allowed myself to stick it out and I found a film that was incredibly deep and incredibly interesting.
|Wow...this shot looks awful...but I'll forgive it because the story is so good.|
Like, ignoring low budgets good.
|Aaron, seen here in a rare moment not wearing a cheap tie.|
Hopefully this helps a little...
Which is exactly the thing I liked the most about the film; it doesn’t dumb things down for the audience. The film is so intelligent and so unlike anything I’ve ever seen when it concerns story, dialogue and narrative that Primer forced me to pay attention and even repeat entire scenes over in order to digest what I just took in. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I watched the film twice,back-to-back, to try and consume more information that may have flown over my head and glazed over eyes during my initial viewing. Carruth unapologetically manufactured a film that sounded so legitimate and science-y that, if it wasn’t for the unnatural interactions between Abe and Aaron, you would think it was a documentary about the discovery of time travel.
|Okay, I can accept time travel in this film but I refuse to believe that a person|
will eat a muffin with a knife and fork!!!!
Without a doubt, the film’s hardest aspect to deal with is the film’s acting. However, these men weren’t professional actors and, there are occasions when it’s very possible to overlook a hindrance such as sub-par acting. While Carruth and Sullivan aren’t “toss you out of the film” terrible with their performances, their acting becomes passable thanks to the truly amazing script Carruth wrote. Therein lies the magic of Primer.
|Doc Brown would have made that truck a time machine and it wouldn't need to |
run on dead dinosaurs...just sayin'.
The film isn’t a work of film-making technical genius or an artistic piece filled with acting knowhow (which is the only reason that kept this film from earning a perfect score) but, rather, a one-of-a-kind film that's truly wonderful thanks to a story that feels way to god damn real and a story that simultaneously insults your intelligence while making you want to learn more. I’m not going to fill myself with a bunch of bullshit bravado and claim, “I totes got the film, I’m smarter than others.” No fucking way would I do that because this movie is confusing as hell. However, the movie challenged me and I liked that. Primer is just an intellectually brilliant film and unlike anything I have ever seen…or will ever see again.