Timecrimes (Los cronocrimenes)

Timecrimes (Los cronocrimenes)

Now, there's a figure you'd hate to see coming at you in the woods.

(Magnet) Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernandez, Barbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo, Ion Inciarte, Miguel Angel Poo, Libby Brien, Philip Hersh. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo

Movies about time travel always seem to focus in on the paradox that if you change the past, you affect the future in some way. However, it would be safe to say that since the very act of time travel changes the future, that in traveling through time, aren’t you really preserving the future?

Hector (Elejalde) is a middle-agent affluent Spaniard who has a beautiful summer home in the countryside of Spain that he has just moved into. His wife Clara (Fernandez) is as happy as a clam working out in the garden while Hector naps. She goes out grocery shopping and Hector decides to sit in his back yard with a pair of binoculars.

At first, he sees a pretty young woman (Goenaga) stripping her clothes off, which is more or less what every guy wants to see when he looks into a pair of binoculars. However, when it becomes clear that there’s something bad happening out in the woods, he goes out to investigate. When he finds her lying half-naked on the ground, apparently unconscious, he is suddenly and violently stabbed with a pair of scissors by a mysterious figure in a trenchcoat whose head is completely wrapped in pink bandages.

The mystery man chases Hector through the woods until Hector arrives at a strange scientific instillation. It’s apparently deserted, being a Sunday, but there is one scientist (Vigalondo) there and he urges Hector to run up the hill to an outbuilding where he can hide until the police come. Unfortunately the mysterious scissor stabber follows Hector up the path to the building and the scientist has Hector hide in a strange water-filled tank.

When Hector emerges, it is one and a half hours earlier. The scientist is astonished that the machine actually works…and tries to figure out what’s going on. All of a sudden there are two Hectors – the one who is just arriving at his house for a nap, the other having traveled back through time. But who is the mysterious figure in the pink bandages and why does he want to kill Hector? Hector needs to solve this mystery if he is to survive these time crimes.

Time travel movies can tend to be overly complex at times. When done well, like Back to the Future or Primer, they can be intriguing and very entertaining. When done badly, like A Sound of Thunder, they can be confusing and irritating. Fortunately, this one falls in the former category. Vigalondo doesn’t waste time with explaining how the time travel operates; it’s a McGuffin that really doesn’t need to be explained. Instead, he deals with the effects of the time travel on Hector and the people around him.

That’s a wise choice. Hector starts out as a fairly boring character but the more the movie goes along and Hector has to make terrible choices, the more interesting he becomes. That’s not to say sympathetic – as time goes by and we see the things he does to maintain the time continuum, he becomes a bit of a monster in some ways. However you’d have to wonder what you yourself would do under similar circumstances, not that you’d find yourself there mind you.

I admire the simplicity of the movie; there are very few characters to deal with and the action is kept to a few locations. However, that simplicity is overrun at times by the time travel paradoxes which are inevitable in a movie about time travel; you may find yourself scratching your head in confusion as I did from time to time. However, once Hector ventures out into the woods and sets this whole thing in motion, the tension level is kept at a very high level, making this a movie to see with someone you trust.

WHY RENT THIS: A wonderful thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat once the action begins.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Following the time travel paradoxes can be confusing at times.

FAMILY VALUES: There is nudity, violence and some very disturbing images. There is also a fairly hefty amount of blue language. I’d think this was okay for mature teens, but no younger.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The short film included on the DVD, 7:35 de la Manana, was nominated for a Best Live Action Short Film in 2005.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: There’s a short film from earlier in Vigalondo’s career called 7:35 de la Manana that is intriguing although not related to this movie, and an interesting but perhaps a trifle long featurette on the marketing of the movie through online interactive games and videos.


TOMORROW: Miss March