2007 // Spain // Nacho Vigalando // November 21, 2008 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
Nacho Vigalando's trippy, morbidly witty Timecrimes is a clever little achievement, demonstrating that an absorbing, competent science fiction film requires only four actors, three sets, and a familiar premise. Middle-aged couple Héctor (Karra Elejalde) and Clara (Candela Fernández) are just moving into a new home in the country when Héctor spies through his binoculars a naked woman lurking in the woods. He wanders off to investigate, leading to a uncanny sequence of events: an assault by a masked stranger, a flight into a series of bizarre buildings, and a journey back in time (albeit only a couple of hours). What follows is a spiral of events that loops in on itself with narrative tidiness and an air of portentous self-satisfaction, as in any time travel tale worth its salt. There's a roteness to some of Timecrimes' allegedly shocking reveals, and Vigalando find the brightest sparks when he plays it fast and savvy, trusting our awareness of the genre's conventions. Never mind that the moral ambiguity to the film's conclusion—and perhaps the absence of any Twilight Zone twist—is a touch unsatisfying. The treat of Timecrimes is the thrilling, black humor that emerges from Vigalando's tightly circumscribed ambition.