Primer (2004)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB

USA, 2004.  ERBP.  Screenplay by Shane Carruth.   Cinematography by .   Produced by Shane Carruth.   Music by Shane Carruth.  Production Design by Shane Carruth.  Film Editing by Shane Carruth.  

Four scientists spend their time making error-checking devices in their garage as sort of a home-grown industry that is looking up in every respect. Two of them (, ) discover that one of their inventions has some pretty interesting capabilities: it can transport the user back in time. Unable to resist the possibilities, the twosome use the machine to improve their stock portfolios and even stop a crime from being committed, all the while making sure to time things perfectly in order to avoid crossing paths with their “doubles” (the version of themselves they’ve left in the present). Eventually, their tampering with fate and causality has a concerning effect on their work, their relationship and their personal health. This fascinating, thinking man’s science-fiction film is at first frustrating with its emphasis on stock corporate characters and technobabble dialogue (think Office Space without the humour). Give it enough time, though, and you’ll get sucked into its narrative vortex and enjoy falling down a very deep and complicated rabbit hole. Produced on a shoestring budget by writer-director-producer-star-cinematographer-editor-composer Carruth, the film’s humble origins only add to its eerie charms. The gorgeous neon cinematography creates the residue of a bad dream without any means of escape, and the top quality acting keeps it high above any B-level status.

Toronto International Film Festival2004

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