The five year old stole the show
That must be the reason why it was JGL who had to spend three hours every morning in the make-up to look like a younger version of the older actor, instead of the other way round. Or perhaps he just had a better negotiator as the contracts were written for Looper.
Whatever the reason was, I’m not sure it was a wise choice. At least not if you want to grab the attention of the young, female audience.
I could hear small sounds of discontent coming from my 18 year old daughter sitting next to me in the theatre.
“He looks weird! He’s not cute anymore. What have they done to him?”
However if JGL’s looks let her down, there was another young man in this movie who charmed my daughter. He charmed her so well that her first, spontaneous comment as we left the cinema led:
“Mum, I want to have a child!”
The one to put such ideas into her head was the five year old Pierce Gagnon. And I couldn’t blame her. His unspeakably cute, and steals every scene he’s in.
Putting it together
But then we let go of discussing the male actors and went on with the mandatory “putting the pieces together” talk that inevitably follows when you’ve watched a time-travel movie. There are timelines to be sorted, interpretations to be compared and in the end you put together a story that makes sense, at least on a basic level.
It’s all nice and part of what makes the genre so fun, but only to a certain extent. You need to tread careful not to overdo it.
There will inevitably be inconsistencies and plot holes – it comes with the genre. If finding those is your first priority, you will. But it will inevitably take away a bit of your enjoyment of the film.
The choice is yours. What do you like most? Feeling smug and superior towards the screenwriter or enjoying a fun, relaxing ride?
I know what I go for, as long as the film isn’t too complicated.
In the case of Primer, I fell out of the wagon during the ride and left the theatre having absolutely no idea of what happened in the film. As I was told afterwards you needed to bring a spreadsheet to the viewing if you wanted to have a chance to wrap your head around what was happening.
Looper is a different creature. It requires you to stay alert, but never crosses the line to obscurity. After talking it over, my daughter and I agreed on that we’d probably need to watch it one more time to figure it all out, and both of us would be happy to do so.
A future classic?
I don’t know yet where to place Looper in the history of time-travel movies. Will we remember this film in ten years time? Will we develop a relationship with it, referring to it over and over again like we refer to 12 Monkeys? Or was it just a solid entertaining one-night stand of a science fiction thriller – nice as long as it lasted, but ultimately forgettable?
I’m leaning towards the latter, that it’s a temporary fling. But I wouldn’t be sad if I turned out to be wrong.
Looper (Rian Johnson, US 2012) My rating: 4/5