Hector is a a simple guy enjoying a quiet afternoon at his country home doing a little bird watching. While doing so, he spies upon a young woman undressing in the nearby woods. His curiosity gets the better of him and he decides to take a trek into the forest to get a closer look. Once in the woods, he is attacked from behind by a masked man sending Hector fleeing deeper into the woods. With the man in hot pursuit, Hector finds refuge at a closed research facility and comes across a lone technician (played by the director, Nacho Vigalondo). He helps Hector by letting him to hide inside a peculiar looking container. When Hector emerges a few seconds later, he finds that the container was actually a beta time-machine, and that he is now a few hours in the past. Having effectivel alluded the man chasing him, Hector finds he now exists with a past version of himself. He is informed by the technician that he must not interact with that version or there will be dire consequences. The only way he can fix his situation is to send his doppleganger in to the past – leaving himself the only remaining Hector in this current time. In the case of Hector, absolutely nothing goes as planned.
Timecrimes is a Spanish thriller directed by newcomer, Nacho Vigalondo, who took a big gamble in using time travel as a plot device in a micro-budget film that he also wrote and stars in. It made the rounds at Sundance and other festivals this year and garnered some very good critical reaction. I can see why. The multi-layered film reminded me a LOT of another of my favorite time-travel films, Primer (our review). Both films forgo elaborate special effects and set pieces, but rather hook the viewer with good characters and good story. The lead character Hector, played by Karra Elejalde (who reminded me of a Spanish version of Tony Shalhoub) is convincing as a househusband who slowly transforms into a desperate man resorting to some pretty desperate measures in order to remedy a baffling situation, measures that lead to some disastrous results. But it was a true testament to both Vigalando and Elejalde that you still empathize with Hector even when it is he himself who is largely responsible for making things worse.
Vigalondo seemed to hammer out every detail in regards to the time travel aspect of the film and the brain-warping paradox that it creates. One of the joys of Timecrimes is that the feeling of confusion does not come from not understanding what happened in the film, but from actually grasping what has happened. The paradox that is created is so craftily displayed, that it makes sense, even though it makes your head hurt when you try to follow out the timeline. Because of the time travel, and the multiple Hectors, the story you see unfold is actually stories overlapping each other. As the film moves along, you get a lot of “aha!” moments as you realize why and how certain objects near the end of the film, are seen at the very beginning. Aside from being a taut thriller, it is enjoyable on that aspect alone as well and multiple viewings are accompanied by different perspectives. In fact, the only gripes I had with the film are purely the aggravation I experienced with some of Hector’s decisions in the middle portion of the film.
I really enjoyed Timecrimes and would recommend it to anyone, along with Primer if you have not seen it. Both films are great examples of what can be done with a small budget, but large talent. They also show you do need fancy special effects in a science fiction film, even when dealing with some of science fiction’s heavier subjects. United Artists liked enough about the film that they have already picked up the rights for a US remake to be produced by Steve Zaillian (American Gangster), so if you think you may check that one out, please try and watch the original beforehand.
Magnolia Home Entertainment, under their Magnet label, have released Timecrimes as part of their 6-Shooter Film Series, a series that was kicked off with Let the Right One In (our review.) Presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, the DVD contains a 5.1 and 2.0 Englished dubbed tracks, as well as the native 5.1 and 2.0 Spanish with English subtitles.
EXTRAS (all contain English subtitles)
If you are a fan of the film, you will love the extras they stuffed into this DVD.
The Making of TIMECRIMES - A 45-minute Making Of Timecrimes that includes a slew of behind-the-scene footage that covers almost every aspect of the film. Shot during the filming, it shows the trials and tribulations of filming outdoors with a small budget, including a setback the film had when a strong wind came in and destroyed one of the sets that had been built, while some of the crew had taken refuge inside it.
Cast and Crew Interviews – 10 minutes of backstage footage and interviews with actress Barbara Goenaga, Producer Eduardo Carneros, lead actor Karra Elejalde, director Nacho Vigalando and special effects supervisor Oscar Del Monte. They give even more behind-the-scene footage as well as a little insight into the individual characters by the people who played them.
Makeup Featurette – Approximately 5 minutes focused on the tedious act of makeup effects, as Plan 9′s very tired looking special effects supervisor, Oscar Del Monte…along with Christina Malillos and Nacho Diaz, apply different levels of injuries to actor Karra Elejalde’s face.
7:35 Del La Manana (7:35 in the Morning) – A short film directed by Nacho Viglando about the lengths a disturbed man will go through in order to get the attention of a woman he is attracted to. I liked this one a lot.
TIMECRIMES Internet Games Featurette – a 30 minute section devoted to the internet game the makers of Timecrimes helped create in an effort to market the film. The game starred the unbelievably hot Mar Del Hoyo who played Marta, a girl who had been recently fired from the Crystalia Corporation. She enlists the help of the online community to help her break into the facility to find clues on what is going on in the research lab (seen in the film.) It contains 5 featurettes on the game’s inception and conclusion. While I never played the game when it was on-going, some may still find all of this interesting and besides, Mar Del Hoyo prominent throughout as she isso easy on the eyes, my vision improved.
Rounding things off is the obligatory stills from the film and the international trailer. Overall, not a bad package for a great film.