Movie Review – Primer
Director: Shane Carruth
Starring: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan
A friend told me about this movie and encouraged me to check it out. I had never heard of it before, but it sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a try. Primer is the first project done by Shane Carruth, who directed, produced, wrote, edited, and starred in the film. That usually makes me nervous, because when you’re so involved in a movie it becomes your baby, and it’s hard to be judicious or to make tough decisions. Often these types of movies come across as self-indulgent and overworked. But this one didn’t. Maybe it’s because Carruth just recently put out his second film, Upstream Color, nine years later. It seems like he takes his time at least, and as far as I know does his research.
Primer is a story of time travel told by two friends, Aaron & Abe. They are engineers and entrepreneurs, inventing new mechanisms in Aaron’s garage alongside two more techies, Robert & Phillip. Their newest invention is a complicated machine that even they don’t know the purpose of, until they stumble upon its secret; an object put into the machine seems to have been gone longer than it should have been when taken out. In other words, time travel. As Aaron & Abe try their best to understand the implications behind their discovery, they are drawn in by the potential power of their invention; money, revenge, anything they want is at their fingertips. They think they know how to use the machine, how to safeguard against possible paradoxes, how to harness it’s power, but they begin to see that they were never in control, that they can’t predict the future, and that what started out as a simple experiment has become anything but.
The movie is short for a feature length, and I’m glad. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I’m not sure how much more my mind could take. I recently watched a time travel movie that was very good; Timecrimes
. And while it was full of action, Primer
had very little. But they both messed with your head, as they showed you the events, told you what was happening, and then left you to figure it all out. With the former, I think I pretty much did. But with the latter, I’m sure I did not. The story was simple and stark, but with confusing elements that told me that I was missing things. When it all came together at the end, I was left knowing that I needed to go back and watch it again if I was to have any hope of understanding what just happened. Remind me to never travel back in time, it doesn’t seem to be worth it. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop watching time travel movies, because when they are well done they are extremely interesting. Primer
was well done; it was realistic, thought-provoking, and fun to try to figure out. And even though I failed to do so, I still had a good time trying.
My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰