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1 review, 4 user ratings

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Time Lapse
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by Jay Seaver

"Neat idea and fine execution makes for a great picture."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Time Lapse" is a standout even for one of the best sci-fi years I can remember Fantasia having, and while those are rankings that may not mean much to non-attendees, it is meant as high praise. There's always room for an enjoyably devilish effect-before-cause story that, as many of the best do, fits together like an exceptionally well-constructed puzzle.

This one starts with Finn (Matt O'Leary), a struggling artist keeping a roof over his head by serving as the housing department's superintendent. He shares this apartment with girlfriend Callie (Danielle Panabaker) and best friend Jasper (George Finn), and lives across the way from a scientist whose mail is starting to pile up ominously. When they go to check, Mr. Bezzeredes is missing, but the front room of his apartment is filled with a massive camera pointed at their place. The lines of Polaroids covering the wall are creepy, but the kicker is when they discover that these photographs are taken automatically once a day - and show the view of their apartment from twenty-four hours in the future.

This isn't, strictly speaking, a time-travel movie, but it's in the same family. The tension in these stories comes not just from the forces within the story itself but in how different aspects appeal to the head (the puzzle that involves present and future events being locked into place) and heart (the idea that one's efforts matter and can make things better), working at cross purposes. Director Bradley King and his co-writer B.P. Cooper do an exceptionally good job of maintaining this conflict, because it's not just about leaving them both as possibilities until the end; we've got to feel that Finn and company can act even as we assemble puzzle pieces assuming that they can't. King & Cooper do an excellent job of making sure that the intellectual half of it is well-constructed - I didn't quite figure out the missing piece exactly, but did wind up appreciating that bits were hidden in plain sight without becoming predictable.

The cast does a lot of the heavy lifting for the emotional track, and they do it well. Matt O'Leary and George Finn wind up playing opposite poles as Finn and Jasper, though some of the usual characteristics are mixed up. O'Leary plays his artist as decent but indecisive, sensible rather than emotional or turbulent, but also managing the neat trick of making the audience see him as a creative artist when the plot of the film can have his art come out of the ether fully-formed. George Finn draws the risky and dangerous one, and gives him enough volatility that Jasper is a little harder to find seductive. Given how much these two are built as each others' opposites, it would be easy for Callie to become a third wheel or, worse, a prize, but Danielle Panabaker gets to do much more, starting out as the quiet glue that holds the movie together before having a chance to take over. She's pretty great at making the middle ground interesting. They're the core of the movie, although there are a handful of other folks who do great jobs in their niches (plus John Rhys-Davies, almost if not entirely on the cutting-room floor).

For a first feature on King's part, it's a remarkably tight ship. The nature of the story keeps things limited to roughly three locations, good for the budget but sometimes artificially limiting, but it instead lets the audience get to know the setting and how things fit together, with the time-camera a wonderfully weighty piece of analog prop-making that help sell the movie. There's impressive precision to how some scenes were shot so that the movie will not just hold together but reward repeat viewings, and more than that, there's an awareness of that precision within the story even as the human actions around them still feel genuine and spontaneous. The finale is clever and fitting without breaking the scale of the rest of the movie.

I'm really hoping that this can get picked up for something more than video on demand, despite it being a small, specialized thing with Ms. Panabaker the most recognizable on-screen talent. It's both easy enough to grasp and polished enough to play in regular theaters, a real treat for sci-fi and mystery fans alike.

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originally posted: 09/13/14 14:47:50
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 San Diego Film Festival For more in the 2014 San Diego Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/17/17 danR Jay has nailed it. Solid low-budget performer in SF top 30. Loved that steam-punky camera. 5 stars
9/24/15 brian Bloody obvious, simplistic plot where very little actually happens except the ending. 3 stars
2/10/15 Paul Snowdon Very enjoyable lots of twists 5 stars
1/10/15 Langano Clever little flick. 4 stars
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  DVD: 16-Jun-2015


  DVD: 16-Jun-2015

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