9: Primer (AKA I don’t understand science)

Primer – October 8, 2004
Starring: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan
Written and directed by: Shane Carruth

The plot: “At night and on weekends, four men in a suburban garage have built a cottage industry of error-checking devices. But, they know that there is something more. There is some idea, some mechanism, some accidental side effect that is standing between them and a pure leap of innovation. And so, through trial and error they are building the device that is missing most. However, two of these men find the device and immediately realize that it is too valuable to market. The limit of their trust in each other is strained when they are faced with the question, If you always want what you can’t have, what do you want when you can have anything?” – Sujit A. Varma at IMDB

My thoughts: Let me tell you guys that I’m notoriously known for not understanding movies after I watch them. Even when I think I get them, I probably don’t. So, what results is me Googling like a crazy person, trying to find explanation of what I just saw.

It happened again. With half the dialogue being weird, science-y jargon, I didn’t really follow. It was like watching a foreign film without subtitles. So, let me lay down what this movie is about because that summary up there is dumb (sorry Sujit.) These guys accidentally create a device that allows for time travel in a strange way. They take advantage and decide to make some money on stocks and betting on sports. And then it gets kind of convoluted because there are two doubles existing at the same time in the spaces and I think at some point there’s three of one of the guy? I’m obviously still kind of lost.

I can’t blame a movie that was, I think obviously, supposed to be somewhat confusing or at least tricky to understand. What actually ruined it a bit for me was the music. At times where it should have been tense, the accompanying piano was full of major chords, which was off-putting and as far as I can tell, didn’t seem to be intentional. It happened a few times throughout the movie and it broke my focus on the movie.

For being on a budget of about 7,000 dollars, the movie looked pretty good. Some shots were grainy and seemed very handheld, but for every one of those was a beautiful shot. In terms of the technical language, I don’t know how accurate any of the science-related language was or if it was mostly made up for the sake up creating a “normal world.” However, Carruth has apparently said that he didn’t want to water it down just for the sake of the audience.

In general, it was a cool little independent sci-fi mystery film. Shane Carruth did a great job writing, directing, and acting in the film. If you’re into flexing your brain and enjoy saying “huh?” after watching a movie, check it out. And when you’re done, you might want to check out the wikipedia page for the movie. It explained a lot. According to one reviewer, “anybody who claims he fully understands what’s going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar.”

Stars: 3/5


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