Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Frequencies/OXV: The Manual (2013)

Sometimes quirky works.  Not always, but it sometimes makes for a better movie.  Frequencies is about a reality very similar to ours, except that people have frequencies.  It seems to work like an IQ in that 100 is considered average or neutral.  Lower numbers indicate negative aspects like awkwardness and bad luck. Those with lower numbers also tend to be more emotional.  Those with higher numbers tend to lead a more privileged life, finding that good things just happen to them.  Those with higher numbers tend to be more logical.  Bring together two people on opposing sides of 100 and you get strange, dangerous results.  It’s also seemingly impossible to change your frequency.

The movie centers around Zak and Marie.  Zak has a lower frequency, but is placed in a school for those with higher frequencies.  There, he meets Marie.  Her frequency is so high that she can’t feel emotion at all.  Zak also has a friend, Theo, who is more moderate in frequency.  Zak has a thing for Marie, but their union can never be, as there’s a one-minute time limit per year imposed by the physics of this universe.  That’s when the bizarre and dangerous stuff starts to happen.

Zak is able to find a way to borrow energy from other people, which allows him to increase his time with Marie to the point that they can start dating.  Zak and Theo find that by using some two-syllable nonsense words, Zak can control people.  This catches the attention of an organization that kidnaps Marie and Zak, as well as a few others, and has them do further research and study.  It turns out that they’ve known about this for a while.  The details been lost and rediscovered over the years, with 1066 and 1760 being important years.

I’m not sure what to make of this film.  It’s one of those movies that is just obvious enough about its message (privilege and class structure) that we get it but not so forward with it that we feel like we’re being beaten over the head with it.  It’s a world where high- and low-frequency people literally can’t exist together.  There’s also the issue of fate.  Theo wants to build a machine that will let him know how the universe will unfold.  What would it mean to build such a machine?  Does it even matter?

A lot of these things aren’t really explored in the movie.  For instance, many of the characters are named for important people in our universe.  Zak’s full name is Isaac-Newton Midgeley; Marie is Marie-Curie Fortune.   No one speaks about their namesake, so we don‘t know any historical details about these people.  Certain things seemed contrived, like the use of an irony particle and music as an inoculation.

It’s one of those movies that I can’t really not recommend, but I’m not sure who I would recommend it to.  I was able to get it streaming from Netflix.  If you have Netflix and are able to stream, you could give it a try.  It’s not much of a loss at 105 minutes.  I don’t know that I would have gotten it if I had to wait for it to be mailed to me.  Would it be too cliché to say that watching it was my destiny?

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