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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 14.14%
Average: 17.17%
Pretty Bad: 20.2%
Total Crap: 7.07%

6 reviews, 63 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Yes, you, too, can travel through time, with items found around the house."
3 stars

"Primer" deals with time travel, but not in a particularly science-fiction-y way. The science portion is explained, but not in simple enough terms for dumb guys like me to understand. I guess if they explained it TOO clearly, it would either demonstrate how implausible it is, or else it would be SO plausible that everyone would go out and start building their own working time machines, and the movie would lose its novelty.

It is about four men, computer guys, it appears, who wear shirts and ties all the time, even when the ties are loosened and the sleeves are rolled up because they're sitting around a kitchen table, talking about technical stuff. They've developed some kind of product (the movie is not exactly clear on what it is) in the garage, and selling it has turned into a small cottage industry for them.

Two of the men, family man Aaron (Shane Carruth, also the writer and director) and his bachelor friend Abe (David Sullivan), begin private discussions away from the other two, though. They've noticed an odd side effect of the whatever-it-is out in the garage, that it seems to be capable of stopping time, at least in a small, confined area. Keeping their research a secret, they expand on the anomaly and soon have de facto time machines in a storage unit outside of town.

The machines are essentially just boxes, possibly owing to the film's very low budget (reportedly $7,000), but that's of little importance. As far as I'm concerned, a time machine can be as simple as a phone booth or a DeLorean. What's unusual about these is how they function. You can't just choose a time to go to; they can only go backwards, and only in real time. So if you enter the box at noon and sit there for two hours, when you come out, it will be 10 a.m., two hours before you went in. Aaron and Abe use it mostly for day trips, then, waiting until the market closes to see which stocks go up, then going back to that morning so they can buy them.

The paradoxes of time and causality are explored, and if they'd been explored better, the film would have been great. It unfolds intriguingly, revealing information a little at a time, until everything is laid out and we see ... well, we're not sure what we see. An incident at a party involving a gun is referred to, and we gather that there is some desire to go back and try to fix things, but the film eventually becomes too obtuse for its own good, leaving things murky when they ought to have been explained in full. We are left with a fascinating, well-played story that dissolves in the end -- a pity, really, since it has so much potential up to that point.

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originally posted: 02/11/04 12:03:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. For more in the 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/25/14 Leo Brim There are answers, you just need to dig deep 5 stars
12/28/13 Marty Never felt dumber in a movie but respect its originality 3 stars
8/09/13 Langano Wow, this movie really sucks. 1 stars
6/17/13 Mark M Good premise but let down by boring execution with unlikable characters. 2 stars
1/23/13 Mike Best (real) time travel movie ever. You'll watch it twice just to figure it out. 5 stars
5/20/11 Mr. Laag Very good, except that It demands at least a second view to fully understand it 4 stars
4/03/11 Vashek Vylet Good idea, but result is sloppy and dull 1 stars
1/19/11 sammyg mind blowing what an amazing film plus when did not understanding afilm mean its bad ? 5 stars
8/22/10 Peepers Sparing, austere, compelling tragedy. Worth repeated viewings. Stellar achievement. 5 stars
8/02/10 mendota "Parts from Wal-Mart," seriously? Mr. McKay was clearly in over his head with Primer. 5 stars
12/07/09 matt completely impenetrable, like wading through a labyrith of molasses in the dark 2 stars
4/07/09 Baloney Better than Timecrimes 5 stars
1/04/08 The Dude What was that all about. I don't really know, but I liked it!! 5 stars
6/05/07 consultation diet pills prescription without diets pill 3 stars
1/24/07 K. Sear The best time travel movie ever. It makes absolutely no concessions to the viewer. 5 stars
11/15/06 William Goss Ow. But a good ow. 4 stars
10/14/06 Oscar Sharp Fascinating movie, especially from a post-heideggerian perspective 4 stars
9/19/06 Mark Keogh Brilliant. A thinking persons film at long last. A movie that bears dozens of viewings 5 stars
9/13/06 Bitchflaps A masterpiece of shoestring budget film-making. Mesmerising! 5 stars
6/05/06 Dean Started off well, but I'd lost the plot by the end 3 stars
5/14/06 jeromebosch garbage 1 stars
12/19/05 patt Just Great 5 stars
11/17/05 Steven Haunschild Brilliant achievement. If you don't have praise for Primer, you don't understand it. 5 stars
10/08/05 justin pynchon+PKD on film; forces you to pay attention; mulholland dr was simple compared to this 5 stars
9/19/05 SY Very good for the director's first feature. Don't be put off if you don't understand. 4 stars
8/26/05 D Buckley This movie is not very good. 3 stars
8/19/05 Terri Sullivan reminded me of Nightingale in a Music Box 5 stars
8/19/05 ALDO hey, it's brilliant, because you don't get it, right? Wrong, but better than Garden State 3 stars
8/13/05 Lily What the hell happened? Attractive lead though. 2 stars
6/26/05 Indrid Cold Brilliant, fascinating, baffling. I didn't know they still made scifi like that. 5 stars
6/16/05 K. E. all over the place 2 stars
5/23/05 y2mckay Pretentious wankfest full of laughable technobabble and sloppy storytelling 2 stars
5/22/05 Cham Looked interesting, but it's utterly pointless, boring, and without any social value. 1 stars
10/31/04 jean-carotte Primer might be the most pretentious and stupid movie ever made. 1 stars
10/06/04 RW I need to see the last 5 minutes again (is this a marketing device to sell more tickets?) 4 stars
9/25/04 durden i got most of it... errr... some of it....i think i need to see 3 or 4 more times 5 stars
9/20/04 denny very enjoyable; needed subtitles to catch all the dialogue; must be seen again 4 stars
6/14/04 Stob this movie was the best independant movie I have ever seen 5 stars
6/06/04 van bullock wow! This was on the genius level 5 stars
6/02/04 Mellifluy It made think, what the *#@!? and then I walked out. 2 stars
4/13/04 Christian Abbott Is the absolute best time travel film I've ever seen. VERY original & thought-provoking 5 stars
3/29/04 bmo brilliant and whole heartedly original 5 stars
3/29/04 Megan Made NO sense to me, but I understand why it won the award (b/c it was made for so little) 2 stars
2/09/04 PIKE David Sullivan is the next Brad Pitt !! 5 stars
2/06/04 Kris M. I was confused from the start and the characters were not engaging. YUCK. 2 stars
2/06/04 ann I can't believe this won the jury award for Sundance. 1 stars
2/01/04 bill sullivan great. 5 stars
1/30/04 Angela Hehner Wow! Can't wait till it's theatre arrival 5 stars
1/29/04 Josef Wells Great Movie. If you have the brains to follow it, you will love it. 5 stars
1/28/04 Rod Barnes An excellent movie... it makes you pay attention the entire time. 5 stars
1/28/04 Matt Smith Great Movie!!! 5 stars
1/27/04 Nancy Dredcoe A $7000 film competes with multi-million dollar films. Says it all. 5 stars
1/27/04 Jon Casey I have much respect for Mr. Carruth. this is the first fim he's EVER made, with little $$ 5 stars
1/27/04 Bob Maplethorpe Absolutely brilliant! 5 stars
1/27/04 Billy Chowder I can't wait to see this Directors' next movie. Amazing 5 stars
1/27/04 Trevor Can't believe this won best film at Sundance 1 stars
1/26/04 John Beakley I thought the movie was very well done and the story line hid the ending well 5 stars
1/26/04 Joe Horn It won Sundance BITCH! 5 stars
1/24/04 David Joyner An excellent story ... don't be misled by the reviewer's narrow minded idea of a good story 5 stars
1/23/04 Neal Dutton Loved it -- from a non geeks perspective -- acting and actors very natural 5 stars
1/22/04 brent kinder I thought it worked, considering what Shane was working with. 4 stars
1/22/04 John Peters Truly unique... refreshing and thought provoking. 5 stars
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  08-Oct-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Apr-2005



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