Thursday, September 1, 2016

In short: Synchronicity (2015)

Warning: there are timey-whimey spoilers ahead!

Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) and his buddies Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matty (Scott Poythress) have invented a time machine. Unfortunately, the thing needs a rare radioactive substance named MRD to work, so they have to rely on money provided by devil investor Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), who is basically twirling an invisible moustache in every scene he’s in. So no worries there.

On the night of their first practical experiment with the receiving part of the machine (the sender is obviously to be built in the future), something actually comes through from the future. It’s a rare orchid, though Jim sees a shadow that looks very much like a person too. He can’t do much about that, though, for curiously enough Jim has some sort of seizure right then. Afterwards, when he races out of the lab to investigate if the shadow he saw was indeed a person, he encounters the mildly mysterious Abby (Brianne Davis).

It’s love at first sight, so the rest of the film consists of a love story between complete strangers, a thriller part based on the fact that Abby just might be in cahoots with Meisner, so that soon enough exactly the obvious happens: Jim goes back in time, has indeed been the shadow from the start of the film, and mostly goes about changing the past by not changing the past and having as much sex with Abby as possible.

Well, let’s start with the positive, shall we? Jacob Gentry’s Synchronicity sure is pretty to look at, taking its cues from 80’s neon noir and neon noir science fiction, with the expected synthie noodling as the score. The film’s really good at using the aesthetic too, feeling very slick and accomplished in that regard.

Unfortunately, there’s the rest of the movie. The acting isn’t actually too bad -  McKnight and Davis just do not have the chemistry for me to buy them as quite as doomed and moonstruck as they are supposed to be even though McKnight does like to throw moon calf-like looks around like nobody’s business. It certainly doesn’t help the performances that there are way too many 80s style meaningful looks to be thrown by everyone and that the dialogue tends to the pretentious when it’s not downright stupid – if you make the mistake of watching this, hold onto your hats for the “Are you a shaman?” line. Of course, there’s also some would-be philosophical rambling about fate that’ll make philosophers cry.

Then there’s a plot which has characters act randomly based on emotions and reactions which are always shifting in the manner most convenient to the plot, driven by motivations that are anyone’s guess, mixing a dead-on-arrival romance with badly thought through – and worse, just not very interesting or fun - timey-whimey (and parallel universe) stuff and some feet-dragging ideas that may have once belonged to a thriller or a neo noir film but never cohere into a narrative that makes sense on any level.

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