Monday, October 14, 2019

Curvature (2017)

It’s funny how good cover art and an interesting premise can lead nowhere while a basic cover and a seemingly basic plot can be the best movie you ever saw.  I found Curvature on DVD through Netflix, thinking it might be something worth watching.  Helen is sent back in time as part of a top-secret project, but she has amnesia because of it.  She also gets a call from herself telling her to flee her house.

It sounds like it might be exciting.  Right?  The entire movie is the definition of meh.  This is despite being chased by her deceased husband’s business partner and the fact that there’s some sort of secret weapon she left for herself.  It turns out that there’s some sort of time-travel project that Helen’s husband was working on before he committed suicide, except maybe it wasn’t suicide.

It’s also a little confusing.  One of the side effects of time travel is the amnesia.  This makes it somewhat difficult to use in any practical sense.  It’s not clear if the Helen we’re watching is the future or the past Helen.  She has the amnesia associated with time travel, but she’s getting help from her other self, which is supposed to be her past self.  So, how does she know what she needs to know to help our Helen?

Helen also seems to have amnesia from before the time travel.  This, I can at least accept.  There’s no reason that the amnesia should correlate exactly to the time frame of the travel being done.  This just makes it even less useful.  Not only can you not remember what happened during the week you went back, but you’re going to lose a few more days on top of that.  It’s kind of an interesting side effect, if you’re looking for one to make time travel useless.  It doesn’t kill the person, but it does make it harder to change anything.  Even if you send back a note, there’s no way to know if it’s accurate or meaningful.

The entire thing seems like a story you might come up with in a writing class.  It’s a decent story, but there’s not too much to hold your attention.  Part of what makes a good time-travel story is that it uses the time travel aspect as a backdrop.  Terminator, for instance, was about the fate of humanity.  It was about people versus machines.  Going back in time was an interesting way to head off the problem of a great leader:  Make sure the leader was never born.

If you’re looking for a simple time-travel movie that works, go with Timecrimes.  It’s a little more complex, but it gives you that complexity in a way that’s easy to follow.  If you’re looking for something way more complex, go with Primer.  It may get difficult to follow, but it will keep you thinking.  I’d avoid Curvature.  I don’t need an entire week.  I’d settle for getting my 90 minutes back.

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