Once upon a time I had the illusion of being a fairly smart person.
I think I got the idea from doing too many intelligence tests. My parents had a book full of those and I did them all. The thing with those tests is that it’s an acquired skill. You get better at it the more of them you do. But since it gives such a pleasant ego boost to get the suggestion that your intelligence is above the average, we’ll rather suspend our disbelief.
The older I get the more humble do I become about my level of intelligence. If I ever was smart, I can be pretty certain that it’s not the case anymore. Brain cells die every day. I’m on a one way journey into decay and destruction. The entropy must increase.
But somewhere inside me I must still have had a little remaining rest of the pride I once took in being smart. Otherwise I wouldn’t have felt as frustrated as I did when I watched Primer.
Primer is about time travelling, that much I got. But the actual plot was way beyond my comprehension. And it bugged me. It bugged me a lot.
So here were a bunch of young, a bit geeky engineer sort of guys, technobabbling away, making some sort of time travelling device. After a while I figured out that I probably watched different versions of them, on different, parallel timelines. But I couldn’t keep them apart. There appeared to be some sort of conflict going on between them. They seemed frustrated, dissatisfied. I think they tried to fix something that had gone broken in their messing with time. Messing with time is serious business, we all know that. Here there be butterflies! But why, who, where, when? I had no idea.
In a final desperate attempt to have something to hold on to, some way to orient myself in this spaghetti mess of a story, I fixated on the ties the guys wore. I spotted some sort of variation between them. One moment they wore quite bright striped ties, the next one they were darker. Hey, there was at least something! But what did it mean? Which tie was from the future and which one from the present?
I don’t think I’ve ever left a movie so dissatisfied. Above all I was angry at myself for not paying more attention. And a bit butt hurt realizing that I wasn’t smart. It was as if I had tried one of those intelligence puzzles consisting of a few wooden pieces, rings and ropes, and failed miserably.
It’s hard to give a fair rating to a movie that you didn’t understand at all, so I won’t even try.
I have the feeling that if I watched it four or five times, taking breaks whenever needed whenever the plot slipped out of my hands, I might actually like it. Kind geeks with too much time at their hands have made insanely complicated maps explaining all the timelines, which could guide idiots like me through. And then I might start to notice and appreciate the personal drama that may or may not be there, hidden beyond all the technicalities of timelines.
However, this is just speculation. As it was now, I saw it in a theatre thanks to my local film club. I only had once chance to solve this intelligence puzzle. And I blew it. ?
Primer (Shane Carruth, US, 2004) My rating: ?/5