Primer

This film is known for it’s rather complicated (confusing) storyline, novel take on time travel, while also all being done on a very low budget. I can confirm that it is indeed all 3. To give a bit more information, it’s the story of a group of friends who spend their spare time working away at various projects in a garage, aiming to create the next big thing. Two of them discover time travel (accidentally) and so the film follows them as they begin to explore the possibilities it brings.

I didn’t recognise the names nor the faces of any of the cast, which is hardly surprising considering the budget of the film, a mere 7000 dollars (US). The shooting feels a little low budget at times, in regards to lighting, and a lot of the scenes, however I think it did very well on the whole.

Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan)

Views are often split on the film as a whole, due to it’s complex nature, and I think I’m on the side who enjoyed it, but I can’t be sure. Most people suggest watching it numerous times so you can ‘get’ it, I personally don’t think that’s a great thing, I mean, I’ve nothing against a film being complicated, and making you think both through it and afterwards, however the extent to which Primer goes may be pushing that idea a little, potentially resulting in no enjoyment for the viewer as they sit there bewildered by the mix of scientific jargon used in the conversations (which was a deliberate choice by the writer and main actor Shane Curruth to make the film feel more real) and the lack of explanation of the storyline.Now, on the other hand it does a very good job when it comes to the realism of time travel, you see them sitting there working out when they have to be where, what they can and can’t do, and it’s a little more than the standard ‘don’t kill a butterfly, who knows what could happen, maybe they dinosaurs won’t die out’ kind of affair.  The initial discovery of the time travel isn’t all smiling faces, it’s in fact discovered by one of the pair, and due to his uncertainty, he is very cautious when trying to tell his partner about it, there is a suitable amount of disbelief I felt for 2 guys inventing a time machine in their garage.

The storyline itself isn’t anything particularly special, without the usual romantic element, or challenges they need to overcome, even the scenes involving a gun are very laid back, and as the viewer you feel completely detached from the gravity of the situation. The film starts relatively slow, and builds well, before ending somewhat anticlimactically I felt, obviously not helped by my brain doing it’s best to keep up with what was going on, and trying to fill in the (numerous) bits which you aren’t shown.

For me there were some out and out poor decisions though, such as one point when a 3rd party somehow discovers their time machine, and uses it (incorrectly), then they have to deal with him. The issue being, their time machine isn’t like anything you would think, it’s infact just a grey looking box which makes a nice hum. So the idea that this guy somehow worked out what it was, how to use it etc, is very weak to me.

Not your standard Hollywood time machine

The Good:

  • Does a good job of making a ‘realistic’ story about time travel
  • Makes you think

The Bad:

  • Makes you think (a little too much at times in my opinion)
  • Due to the intricate nature of the story, I found myself lacking the normal desire to see the conclusion, since it almost didn’t seem to be going anywhere

Should I watch it?
Most people probably wouldn’t enjoy it as they would a normal film, as it really does require you to be on the ball, not to miss anything, and even if you can tick both of those boxes, you’ll most likely get to the end feeling rather confused (as I did). Saying that, I enjoyed it, and am glad I gave it a watch, not sure if I would recommend it to my friends though, and if I were to, it would be purely to hear their initial reactions, and see if they could work out what actually happened etc.

For those who have watched it already and are struggling, here’s a couple of things which ‘cleared’ it all up for me (still left me feeling a couple of aspects were out of place/poorly done).

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