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poster_primer1Honesty is the best policy, I had to read the wikipedia entry of this film to finally put the pieces together. I had a good notion about what had transpired, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say “Primer” lost me somewhere about the middle of its compact 75 minute runtime.

“Primer” is a 2004, no budget endeavor attempting to tell a more accurate story involving time travel.  Whatever accurate might be in that case. The point being, Hollywood always treats time travel as spectacle, an excuse for ritzy special effects like speeding Delorians, trippy light shows and flying around the sun in a Klingon bird of prey.  Here, time travel is accomplished by accident, with a device which looks as if it was created from parts bought at Home Depot, involving nothing more visually dramatic than getting into a box for a prolonged amount of time. Director and star Shane Carruth is illuminating the fact that monumental scientific discoveries have historically occur by accident, in labs and basements and that the consequences of the invention often elude the inventor.

Made for a scant $7000, “Primer” doesn’t look polished or sophisticated, but it doesn’t feel hackish or slapdash either.  It was made a specific way by a filmmaker who knew how to accomplish something with very little.  It’s a film geared more toward tech heads, sci-fi enthusiast and fans of the idiosyncratic.   In some ways it reminded me of a less stylized version of Arronofky’s “Pi.”  That too was a low budget, idea driven, pseudo science fiction tale.  “Pi” was more successful on more levels though.  “Primer” doesn’t carry much emotional weight or feel inherently dramatic.   It’s a film about a fascinating idea and on that level I can appreciate it.  And while it’s characters feel real, there isn’t much to say about them.  They are wrapped up in a situation which feels vitally important to them, but of only passing curiosity to the viewer.

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