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Timecrimes

Year: 2007
Production Co: Karbo Vantas Entertainment
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Cast: Karra Elijalde, Bárbara Goenaga

As always, if you look too closely it'll all fall apart, but when it comes to time travel movies the answer is often to just go with the sentiment.

Watching Primer I can remember the dizzying excitement – even while only partway through it – that it was going to be one of the best movies I'd ever seen. I wouldn't call this film one of the best ever, but I felt the same sense of excitement that I was watching something I'd never seen before that was going to be as exciting as it was thought provoking if done properly.

Hector (Elejalde) and his wife are settling in to a new house in the forest. At first the phone call where nobody speaks doesn't seem anything more than strange. But when Hector goes for a walk and finds a naked girl slumped unconscious in a clearing, a stranger stabs him in the arm with a pair of scissors and starts a nightmare of metaphysics.

Hector makes his way to the research lab in the woods nearby. A voice on the pother end of the walkie talkie he uses to ask for help encourages him to go to another building, and when Hector gets there the perplexed scientist looking after the strange equipment tells him he has to get into the large tank of water to escape his pursuer.

When Hector emerges an instant later, it seems like he's been there all night. The sun is out and everything's different. Struggling to understand what's happening, he calls his house – hearing his own voice. Before long Hector is skulking around the woods with a pair of scissors to defend himself with, with cars running him off the road and a pretty young woman going by on a bicycle that he's seen before. Hector himself is the stranger who attacked him the previous day because he's gone back in time.

It's an exercise in cause and effect theory as Hector has to get in the machine again to go back and undo the damage he's done, roping the reluctant scientist in and spiraling upwards into an ever-complicated scheme to try to restore everything, with no less than four versions of himself to hide from.

The writer director plays is straight, leaving the scientific conundrum as the selling point rather than any fancy camerawork or directorial trickery. And while the performances and sets are workday-adequate, it's the idea that will have you turning it over in your mind for a long time afterwards. It's essential viewing for fans of pure science fiction.

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