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In Time: It had the potential to be so much more

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In the middle of life, death comes
to take your measurements. The visit
is forgotten and life goes on. But the suit
is being sewn on the sly.

Those words by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer are among the best I’ve ever read about death and how we deal with it as we’re aging.

Deep down we realize that there’s a countdown and that it involves us too, but in order to remain sane we choose to pretend it’s not there.

Occasionally there’s a rupture in our bubble of denial. We get a glimpse of death as someone close to us gets ill or dies. And for a brief moment we suddenly hear that clock ticking, the sound we usually drown in a flurry of activities, anything that keeps us too busy to stop for a moment.

We hear it. Tick. Tock. And it freaks us out, but at the same time it intensifies life in a way that only the awareness of death can do. Seeing that signpost telling us that the road will end at a certain point makes us realize what a privilege it is to be among the living, to still be travelling that road.

Before we came alive there were eons and eons of our non-existing and after we’re gone, eons and eons will follow. We’re just a weird exception to our natural state of death. Screw those lotteries with their billion pot prizes! We’ve already won the top one. We’ve still got heartbeats to go, breaths to be taken. We’ve got time and those whose suits are ready to be used envy us.

The insight will only last ever so briefly and there’s no use trying to hold on to the feeling for long. You can touch it but not crunch it. The very moment you try to close your fist around it, it will crumble and disappear in the same way as grains of sand.

And this is all in order. Carpe diem sounds fine, but if I kept walking on the edge of death every second of the day, paying attention to the fact that I was alive, it would wear me down pretty quickly. There is a suit sewn for me as well, but I prefer them to make it for me without my knowledge.

Etched on their arms
The people in the sci-fi movie In Time haven’t got much of a choice though. They don’t just know the point when they’re going to die; they have the countdown watch etched in green on their arms, counting down the days, hours and seconds that remain until they’ll drop dead on the ground where they stand.

They can increase their remaining life span. Time is the new currency and you can earn it the same way as you earn money: by work, theft, inheriting, prostitution, gambling or begging.

A few lucky ones in the upper class can ensure themselves eternal life. The majority are likely to die in their 30s, at the latest.

It’s a simple idea, but intriguing, waking all sorts of questions and ethical dilemmas, of which only a few are explored in the movie.

I loved the concept and that’s why it felt like a shame that it half of half was wasted.

This could have become a dark, frightening and gripping dystopian film, something as powerful as The Road.  Instead they went for a traditional good-guy-chased-by-the-bad-guys-story in combination with a standard romance.

Perhaps it was the presence of Justin Timberlake that put the filmmakers on the wrong track. I can imagine the discussion as they made up what they thought would be a perfect date move.  “We’ll give the ladies some romance and the guys a few car chases. But not too much of that weird hard core science fiction right? We don’t want to scare off people”.

A waste
It sounds as if I really disliked it, but that’s not the case. It will get a decent rating, because I’m notoriously generous, but also because I was quite entertained all in all. The time flied (no pun intended).

However I’m frustrated. It feels like such a waste, especially considering that the director as well as writer is Andrew Niccol, who wrote the script for Truman Show, which is a remarkable film, one of my favorites.

In Time is just average. It could have been brilliant. It could have raised all those questions that science fiction is so good at rising: about life, death and the meaning of all of it.

In Time (Andrew Niccol, US, 2011) My rating: 3,5/5

Written by Jessica

April 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in In Time, Uncategorized