Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TADFF 14 Film Review - Predestination

Time Travel tales all tend to have very particular rules: You are not to run into yourself in the past, try to avoid unnecessary contact with too many people, even the most minor actions in the past could severely effect your future and don't take anything from the present with you. Based on a 1960, 13 page short story entitled All You Zombies by Robert A Heinlein Predestination turns all of your preconceived notions of time travel on its ear.

Ethan Hawke plays a Temporal Agent who is very close to retirement.  His last mission is to take one last shot at catching a criminal nicknamed the Fizzel bomber who terrorized New York City in the late 60's and 70's cumulating in a March 1975 blast that leveled a city block killing over 10,000 people. The Agent last effect to catch the bomber left him severely burned and out of action for a long period of time due to extensive reconstruction surgery.

For his last attempt he heads to 1970 New York setting up work as a bartender in a quiet establishment. At the bar he meets a patron (Sarah Snook) who writes as the Unmarried Mother telling stories for women on how their lives could or ought to be. On a bet for a bottle of alcohol The Unmarried Mother tells a story giving in an insight on how an appealingly male columnist could know so much about the female condition.

Directors Michael and Peter Spierig produce a knotted tale that bounces around the 60's and 70's like a superball. The story has as many if not more twist and turns in the narrative line along with several transformations and reveals of the two central characters. The directors expand the source material adding another central character Mr. Robertson (Noah Taylor) who plays Agency head /Recruiter and confident for the patron starting from youth.

Ethan Hawke delivers another in a series of solid performances as the Temporal Agent. He is quiet and understated and speaks with a grading gruff voice.  The Agent is often physicallyweakened due to the extensive number of jumps of various length he has taken throughout his career. Sara Snook is an emerging revelation as The Unmarried Mother. Her Jodie Foster like looks play well for her role as a total outsider, outcast and someone that is different from just about everyone else on the planet.

Predestination is a very intelligent production. It has fewer action sequences than one would expect but shines in its dialogue and tape recorded inventory checklist reminders.  The dance between Bartender Hawke and Snook as the Unmarried Mother recounts the latter's story from spot to spot in the 1970's bar is magical stuff.  It is a film that I can highly recommend.

*** 1/2 out of 4.

Predestination | Michael & Peter Spierig |Australia |  2014 | 97 Minutes.

Tags: Time Travel, Bullying, Government Agent, Gender, Orphanage, 40's, 60's 70's,Terrorism, Bomber.

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