Wednesday, November 5, 2014

In short: Frequencies (2013)

aka OXV: The Manual (2013)

One of the perks of living in the future as we do is that this sort of film, unthinkable to come out of a major studio in this form, can be made relatively cheaply independently without the resulting movie looking as if it were shot in a backyard. This has, among other things, resulted in quite a number of impressive indie SF films that leave the explosions to others and trade in intelligence, ideas and often very cleverly structured narratives. It’s an approach that brings Darren Paul Fisher’s Frequencies much closer to the best of written SF (not that I mind space operas or explosions, I only mind when they’re the only thing that’s there). One might argue this is more a film of the general fantastic than a piece of SF but then that’s why people use SF to mean speculative fiction instead of science fiction.

Anyhow, one of the more impressive achievements of Frequencies is how it manages to start off as a quirky SF romance (and let me just parenthesize how much I love living in world where that’s an actual, if small, SF genre) but then quickly, and cleverly, broadens its approach considerably in elegant yet utterly unexpected ways I’ll certainly not spoil for anyone, even if that leaves this little write-up as another one of those pieces talking around parts of a movie. Let’s just say it’s delightful, and leave it at that.

The film’s chosen science being philosophy, there’s a lot of intelligence to find in it, with a certain playfulness of thought (and of plot, really) working rather wonderfully, making ideas that could be rather depressing sing.

On a technical level, Frequencies is just as successful, with Fisher providing just the right rhythm to what’s going on, and managing a structure that could be painfully gimmicky in a way perfectly appropriate to his film’s style, story, and philosophical theme. All things – like fine performances, and an equally fine score by Blair Mowat - just come together for Frequencies so well, it works like a miniature universe, a perfect little machine that runs so perfectly it never feels mechanical.

No comments: