Starring: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden
Director: Shane Carruth
Running Time: 77 mins
Primer is an American film about a group of young engineers who, whilst building a device in their own garage, accidentally stumble across something that enables them to travel in time, however this new-found power quickly creates tensions.
To call this movie confusing would be a colossal understatement, because it’s actually almost totally incomprehensible. It’s a well-made, ingeniously written and well-acted film, all somehow done on a budget of $7000, however its main problem is that it’s not particularly viewer-friendly, and contains one of the most mindbending stories in cinema history.
Let’s start with that very problem, that, as an average film watcher, I really couldn’t get to grips with what was actually going on in this film, no matter how hard I tried, and even after doing a little bit of research after watching it, I’ve still got pretty much no idea what the hell happened.
There are three main reasons for this. Firstly, this film is (deliberately) full of scientific technical jargon that’s just impossible to understand for someone who’s not doing a PhD in Engineering, and that made its story and underlying concepts often inaccessible for me to understand and enjoy.
Secondly, the non-linear narrative of this film is so confusing and mixed-up to the extent that you can’t actually tell what point of the story you’re at at any point means it’s really hard to get to grips with. Of course, that style is intentional, and I’m sure it is very effective after a second (or five-hundredth) viewing, but as a one-time watch, it’s basically impossible to fully get.
Thirdly, this film requires some of the most intense concentration I’ve ever seen. Think about how much you had to focus on Inception, and then multiply that by infinity, because that’s what this is. The problem with that is two-fold. Firstly, if your concentration lapses for a second or two, you can be totally thrown out of the continuity of the story, and find yourself struggling to understand what’s going on, and secondly, it means that it’s a really tiring, tough watch, which, although it’s only 77 minutes, leaves your brain exhausted by the end.
Anyway, away from the confusing plot, this film is hugely impressive and admirable for its writing, which somehow manages to piece together an insane story such as this, acting, and weirdly non-cheap looking set design and cinematography, the latter of which blew me away by looking so convincingly high-budget.
So, overall, this film gets a 7.0, because despite being an impossible movie to understand, I’ve got to commend its effective use of budget, great acting, and expertly written screenplay.