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Primer: the little movie that could

Aaron: "What's worse? Thinking you're being paranoid, or knowing you should be?"

Now, see, this is what you get when you're into sci-fi and you click on Netflix recommendations.

I rented a fascinating little movie the other night called Primer. It's about these two engineers who accidentally create a time travel device in their garage, and realize they can use it to get everything they've ever wanted. And of course, something goes terribly wrong, because something always goes terribly wrong.

Primer is a short independent film (only 78 minutes long) that was created for only $7,000. Yes, that's a seven with only three zeroes. I think it was pretty good investment, considering that it's a multiple Sundance winner and all. And it's a perfect example of something I bring up over and over again in my reviews; the primary ingredient for every really good movie is a powerful story. I don't think I've ever seen a really good movie, a memorable movie, that has a so-so story. Have you?

Other stuff helps, of course. The writing is very good and the acting and photography are also kind of amazing when you consider their budget. There's a reason for every line, shot, and scene. It has the feel of absolute realism, and that includes the time travel trappings, which isn't something you can say very often about science fiction. The two main characters come off as real guys, completely genuine. I used to work with engineers; I know guys like these guys.

It doesn't seem like there's much going on at first, but the story just pulls you in as it slowly increases in intensity and complexity. It edges so logically into the fantastic that it takes you along with it. At one point, it got so heavy that I started having trouble tracking what was going on, and that doesn't happen to me very often. I reached the end and just went, "Wow." I had to watch it again. I wanted to watch it again. (So did Dan.) I doubt if anyone can completely "get" this movie the first time. Although let me add that you really don't have to watch it twice to enjoy it and understand the basics of what is going on.

So. If you can handle a creatively filmed movie without big actors or special effects, you might like this one. I did.

Three out of four stars,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Okay. You make it seem like a must-see, so I'll add to my que.

  2. When I saw this movie I had a real problem wraping my head around the resolution of the plot. There is enough unexplained plot to make you go a little mad thinking about it. But because of this I feel that it is a much stronger movie then if everything was explained in hollywood detail.


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