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TIMECRIMES (Cronocrímenes, Los) (director/writer: Nacho Vigalondo; cinematographer: Flavio Labiano; editor: Jose Luis Romeu; music: Chucky Namanera; cast: Karra Elejalde (Hector), Barbara Goenaga (Girl in the forest), Nacho Vigalondo (Young man), Candela Fernandez (Clara); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Eduardo Carneros; Magnolia Pictures; 2007-Spain-in Spanish with English subtitles)
“More prone to play out as a case of style over substance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 27-year-old Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo in his feature film debut directs and writes this well-constructed clever puzzler low-budget B film time travel tale.

Lumpy middle-aged businessman Hector (Karra Elejalde) just moves into his country house with his doting wife Clara (Candela Fernández). One day while in the yard he spots through his binoculars a woman (Barbara Goenaga) stripping in the forest clearing and goes to investigate. Hector finds the naked woman lying down unconscious and while standing around wondering what to do, a guy with a long coat and a pink bandaged face comes out of the bushes to stab him in the arm with a pair of scissors (think Invisible Man!). In panic from his attacker, Hector flees to his neighbor’s house and breaks into his basement research lab. There he makes contact by walkie-talkie with his neighbor, an unnamed research scientist (Nacho Vigalondo, the director), who invites him up to his hilltop silo for safety. The scientist then manuevers Hector to hide in a podlike vat which holds a mysterious white liquid. When Hector quickly emerges, the scientist tells him you can’t return to your home because you are already there. He then explains he entered a time machine and has exited about an hour earlier in the day.

Though it’s the familiar sci-fi hokum, the actors and director take it all very seriously and turn it into a diverting brainteaser of how Hector is to get out of facing his doppelganger and get back his straight life. Time in Timecrimes cannot be altered, therefore our ordinary hero has a chore of straightening out this nightmarish mess by following the timeline in his re-enactment of events.

What bogs the pic down is that the twists soon become predictable, there’s no outrage over murder committed to keep the film’s circuitous logic intact and it’s more prone to play out as a case of style over substance. But it’s entertaining enough to be worth seeing before the expected Hollywood remake by United Artists; that is, if you don’t get a headache trying to keep up with all the multiple “Hectors”.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”