Spanish sci fi., Los Cronocri­menes, Timecrimes


Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes) (2007)

Written & Directed by Nacho Vigalondo

Language: Spanish

Of all the sci-fi topics that have been introduced through books, films or any other medium of entertainment, time travel will probably edge the rest out in being the coolest and most desirable of the lot. Oh how we would we all love to go back and polish our past!

Indian cinema has barely scratched the surface on this understanding and the only form of time-travel/teleportation we’ve come across would be in mythological films or if it’s employed as an ‘escape mechanism’ in a comedy sequence. But Hollywood has been taking it quite seriously and in the past it has churned out gems such as the campy yet utterly enjoyable ‘Back to the Future’series,  James Cameron’s epic ‘Terminator’ series and the mend-bending ‘Twelve Monkeys’ which have all played their parts in incubating our yearning of going back and forth in time. Even the usually grounded Woody Allen couldn’t resist the idea of having a drink with Ernest Hemmingway.

The early 60s in Spain saw an uprising of a new crop of directors with Leftist ideologies emerging and influencing a refreshing change in cinematic styles. The latter part of that decade saw the institution of the Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya (International Film Festival of Catalonia) and the festival’s primary attraction would be its science fiction films.

Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes is a film that uses the concept of time-travel in an understated yet highly intense manner. The film finds no need to employ a Hollywood-like exaltation in its production because the film’s grand design is its riveting story. Nacho Vigalondo develops a minimalistic idea (with great ambitions) into a self-consuming monster giving the impression that it’s ‘Groundhog Day’ on speed.

The film features not more than 4 role-players but Nacho Vigalondo, as the story writer, provides himself several characters to play with. In a sense, the story gives the semblance that the writer-director began with a child-like enthusiasm of exploring time-travel and soon realized its dire consequences and proceeded to make amends trying to find its closure. The same feeling has been recreated on screen as a gripping thriller. While many modern films of this genre tend to be quite delirious for the viewer to tell left from right, Timecrimes keeps things fairly straightforward but takes none of the psychotropic enthrallment away.

In his directorial debut, that Nacho Vigalondo also gives himself a part to play, he masterfully clenches the viewer’s attention and throws in shock and surprise at good frequency. He clearly succeeds in getting the viewer to participate in his lead character’s turmoil as they are ‘expected’ to know what is about to transpire. The film surely rests on Karra Elejalde’s shoulders as the central character Hector. With his face covered with bandages for a considerable part of the movie he still manages to depict the franticness of his state.

The film’s pedestrian paradox does not particularly demand a second viewing but it is certainly worth watching again to look out for some clever detailing that one may have overlooked during the first watch. But in the end Timecrimes will leave you with a sense of relief, if not one of fulfilment.

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