Friday, November 4, 2011

Foreign Fears: Timecrimes (2007) (Spain: Los Cronocrímenes)

Review by Anthony Servante

Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Timecrimes is a Spanish Science Fiction/Horror movie that deals mainly with time travel and doppelgangers. Karra Elejalde is Hector, who we see early on in his home with his wife, Clara, played by Candela Fernandez. There is a mysterious phone call, a nude woman in the woods, and a strange scientist who insists that Hector hide in this big contraption that turns out to be a time machine. Hector emerges from the machine only to see ‘himself’ in front of his home with his wife just as he was an hour earlier.

Now follow closely, as this can become confusing. Hector, who just emerged from the time machine, refers to himself as Hector One and to the Hector in front of his house as Hector Two. Apparently Hector One was the character we saw earlier in the film spying on a naked girl in the forest. When his wife leaves, Hector One goes to check on the girl, only to be stabbed in the arm by a man whose head is covered in bandages soaked with fresh blood. We learn later that the bandaged man is another Hector.

To tell you anymore would create spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that.

The movie is a joy to watch, a time travel Rubik’s Cube, where murdering oneself may or may not be the solution to setting time right.

The scientist Chico is played by director/writer Vigalondo with a teasing simplicity, but nothing about this story is simple. Each time Hector emerges from the time machine, something new happens, but for us the viewer, it is something old, but seen from a different perspective, i.e., a different camera angle, just as Hector One espied Hector Two in the film’s beginning.

Yes, it’s all very confusing, and Timecrimes is designed to be watched more than once. Just as Hector, we see more each time we return to the movie. I’ve seen it three times and still find new stuff going on. Filmed on a low budget, but making up for it with a very intelligent script, this Spanish gem with English subtitles is a rare treat for time travel buffs, and you’re in for some interesting surprises to the very end.

It was rumored that David Cronenberg was remaking an English-language version of the film, but he has since denied any involvement with the remake. With its psychological bent and horrific images, I think Cronenberg would be an excellent choice for a remake. Meanwhile, I think I’ll give it a fourth viewing.

--Anthony Servante