As promised, the vault jumps forward in time to a movie that’s all about traveling to the not-do-distant future. This little Spanish film, originally known as Los cronocrímenes, bounced around the festival circuit in 2007 before gaining a limited theatrical release in the states in late 2008. Today it is our choice for the vault’s Attack the Queue! series.
Héctor (Karra Elejalde) returns from a shopping trip to his new home in the country. He tries to nap, but unable to, he sits in the backyard with his binoculars scanning the forest. It’s there he spots a shapely young woman (Bárbara Goenaga) taking off her top. With his wife Clara (Candela Fernández) gone shopping, Héctor decides to investigate further only to find the woman lying stark naked and possibly dead in a clearing. As he draws near, he is stabbed by an unknown assailant in a black trench coat with his face wrapped in pink bandages. Panicked and wounded, Héctor races through the woods coming upon a facility. There he encounters a young man (Nacho Vigalondo) who helps him hide from the lunatic… in the onliest of places!
Nacho Vigalondo, Héctor’s young savior, is also the writer and director behind los cronocrimenes, a.k.a Timecrimes. Timecrimes reminds me a lot of the Swedish film, Let the Right One In, but not in the way you might think. Both are foreign thrillers which received limited release at roughly the same time and I watched both at home and not in theaters. They are reminiscent of one another because, in both instances, I turned off the film feeling like I’d had a satisfying, but not overly remarkable cinematic experience, only to find within an hour or so, I could not stop replaying and analyzing the story’s particular in my mind. If there is ever a hallmark of a stellar film, it’s that you can’t just chalk it up to an entertaining experience; it demands you watch it again.
Being a time travel film, Timecrimes deserves at least a second viewing to validate Vigalondo’s ingenuity. A big flaw in time travel films is usually a storyteller establishes the parameters of how time travel works in their world, only to later bend or break those rules just to pull off some impressive spectacle. Depending upon your views of time travel, you might be tempted to question the puzzles Héctor’s story creates, but you can’t find fault with Vigalondo’s adherence to his time travel logic.
If you’ve seen Timecrimes, that may sound strange considering how perplexing our protagonist’s story is. The larger issue Vigalondo wants audiences to ponder isn’t a question of science, but of humanity. How Héctor behaves throughout his predicament is where the real debate lies.
I’m dangerously close to ruining this wonderful, thought-provoking film by blurting out all the details so I’ll stop while I’m ahead. I agree with what Kai said when he ranked Timecrimes third on his list, Kai’s Top 10 Time Travel Movies; you should know as little as possible before watching it. Like Goenaga’s alluring figure amidst the trees, I hope I’ve shown just enough to make Timecrimes too tantalizing to ignore.