Timecrimes (Los cronocrímenes) (2007)

Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Barbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo

Written by: Nacho Vigalondo

Running Time: 92 mins

Original UK Cert: 15

Original UK Release: 6th February 2009

Time travel films are always a hard genre to crack. As fascinating as the possibilities of jumping from one time to another can be, they are often full of holes or so complicated that you care very little about the characters or the situation. Some manage it (Back To The Future) others don’t (Timeline). So how refreshing to watch a time travel movie that, while not perfect, was intriguing and easy to follow.

Hector moves into a new home with his wife, Clara, that borders a forest and a strange building in the distance. One evening, while sitting in his garden, Hector, using his beloved binoculars, notices a girl wandering in the woods. When she becomes naked, Hector heads off to investigate, discovering her, lying by some rocks, unconscious. Hector is then attacked by a man covered in bandages, with a pair of scissors. Hector, with a stab wound, finds safety in the strange building, where he finds out that this is only the start of his troubles, as the lone scientist in the building just happens to have a time machine.

Without giving too much away, the beauty of this fun, sometimes nail-biting Spanish thriller, is the simplicity of the idea mixed with the complexity of the time travelling. Writer, director and co-star Nacho Vigalondo has carefully thought out the possibilities and so while you watch the action unfold, you soon find that incidents that occur during the film are cleverly linked in, so nothing that happens, just happens. They happen for a reason.

It also manages to masterfully mix in an interesting premise: what would happen to a man if he has to return to cover his tracks several times over? Will that affect him as a person? In Timecrimes, it does. We watch Hector go from a clumsy, awkward husband to virtual psycho as he tries to control what is almost uncontrollable.

There’s nothing flashy about this film. With a low-budget, no effects and a small cast, it grips from the start and refuses to let go for its short running time. Every inch of film is used appropriately and so we get to care for Hector and his plight, while at the same time are shocked and horrified with plenty of head scratching as well.

It’s not the perfect time travelling film. With its questionable beginning (when does the time travelling really start) and an ending that, while fine, isn’t exactly satisfactory, it still is miles better than most Hollywood produced films of this nature. The performances are good, especially from  Karra Elejalde as Hector, who we watch grow in status and stature.

It’s sinister, it’s subtle and it’s a film that sticks in the mind. It will cause you to argue about the start and question how it is possible but it doesn’t spoil the rest of the film. A clever, inventive and straight-forward thriller and one that, if you are a fan of this kind of film, you should not ignore.

4/5

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