Quick-Thoughts: Shane Carruth’s Primer (2004)

You know what, Christoper Nolan? I’m tired of your time-slimey shenanigans. You’ve taken it too far now! This Primer movie, yeah, it’s ought to go. I wasn’t being literal when I said make your next movie more complicated in my Tenet review; if anything that was a plea for you to finally chill the f**k out. But now look at what you’ve done. You’ve momentarily perplexed me to death. Shame on you.

In all seriousness though, fantastic job, Shane Carruth. $7,000, 78 minutes, and nothing but complexion whether that be for better or worse. It’s difficult to deny it as anything less than creative though, even if there isn’t a grander scope when it comes to a specific profundity behind the madness. When you’re restrained into this belittled of a budget, I can only picture the amount of power in cinematic freedom it could possibly give you; audience f**kery is nearly unavoidable and sometimes it’s more important to get lost in that than in anything else when making something as intentionally mazy as this. At any cost though, it was meritful seeing how the filmmakers worked their way around such constraints to make a filter-junkie movie that has actually a handful of good placement compositions and camera techniques. Raw accomplishments!

That seems to not be the point, of course, with Primer though. This movie is what I imagine to be the most realistic bystander observation of time travel to be graced in a cinematic format. The complexion of the film sort of mimics what a singular brain could actually handle in retrospect to how time travel almost guarantees multiple strains of timelines or copies of yourself colliding and warping with one another. The intelligent deductiving that the two main characters often discuss of time travel was also unlike anything I had witnessed in a film of this genre; they felt like legitimate conversations you’d want to precaution yourself with if you ever obtained the power of time traveling, and it made the feature-length surprisingly educational when it came to the long-debated concept. Yet, as the film went along, and you could tell the characters became more and more lost in their own reality or logic, it really lended a sort of new, terrifying awakening to the idea of time traveling.  

It’s a bit straining that there isn’t like a paradox version of this movie with less dialectic explanations, more interesting visual expressions, and a graceful removal of that sleeper score, but the fact that this exists in the first place is good enough for me. Shane Carruth could’ve have easily just been a lazy ass and let his brilliant script live endlessly in a junk pile, but instead he managed a cheap budget and made the damn movie with a couple amateurs and no f**ks given. Gotta say, that’s PRETTY inspiring for a pretentious film major such as myself. 

Verdict: B+

“Primer” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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