Synopsis: A man being pursued by a murderer stumbles into a mysterious lab and accidentally travels back in time. A naked girl in the midst of the forest. A cloaked stranger with his face covered by in bandages. A disquieting mansion on the top of a hill. All of them pieces of an unpredictable jigsaw puzzle where terror, drama and suspense will lead to an unthinkable sort of crime. Who’s the murderer? Who’s the victim?
Los cronocrímenes 7.25
eyelights: its original premise. its thrilling twists. its construction.
eyesores: its moronic protagonist. its temporal paradoxes.
Héctor sits on his countryside property, looking out with binoculars. In the woods far off in the distance, he sees a woman disrobe. After his spouse leaves to run errands, he decides to go satisfy his curiosity.
Upon his arrival, he finds the woman naked and unconscious. But, as he comes closer to see if she’s okay, he is attacked by a stranger wearing bandages all over his face. He flees, and finds refuge in a nearby facility.
Seeking assistance, he contacts another man on a walkie-talkie that he finds on a table. He is guided to a more secure location, after which he is told to hide from his aggressor in a huge vat – that then closes on him.
When he’s released, he discovers that he’s traveled back in time by one hour. The other man tells him to hide, but he runs off, bent on trying to prevent the incident. But can he? Or will he only make things worse?
Such is the basic premise of ‘Los cronocrímenes’, a 2007 science-fiction thriller written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, in his feature film debut. It has garnered attention and accolades – and possibly a US remake.
But I have mixed feelings about it.
The performances are all very good, the pacing is excellent, the direction is rock solid, and it’s a rather entertaining picture, ultimately. But it’s a time travel film marred by severe temporal paradoxes.
It just doesn’t make any sense.
You know how, in ‘Back to the Future‘, the concept of time travel is that, if a person changes the past, they change the future (or, at least, they find themselves in a parallel, but altered, timeline)?
That made sense to me.
Here, however, Vigalondo has written a story in which the events taking place before Héctor time travels can’t possibly happen unless he time travels. This creates an insurmountable paradox that bothers me greatly.
The worst of it is that Vigalondo adds layers of this as the film goes on, to such an extent that, in the end, none of it should be happening. The future influences the past which influences the future which influences the past…
It’s as though ‘Los cronocrímenes’ was reverse-engineered to work, as though Vigalondo wanted a certain outcome and then backtracked from there – without considering the fact that the events as portrayed simply can’t happen.
Or maybe it was intentional: Apparently the girl who disrobes was wearing a shirt with a drawing of Schrödinger’s cat, a well-known paradox. And in that drawing is a logo that Héctor finds on the other property.
This suggests deliberate design on the part of Vigalondo.
But it’s still frustrating to watch.
Especially when you have to follow Héctor, a !@#$ simpleton who doesn’t understand the basic concepts that are imparted on him. Instead, he goes off half-cocked doing dumb things that have terrible repercussions.
Also, I found the whole notion of the girl being forced to strip very strange. It felt gratuitous to me, like there would have been other ways to connect the dots, and it made me feel extremely uncomfortable to witness.
Then again, Héctor might not have been curious in the first place if not for her.
Um… not that it should have even taken place.
Perhaps the point of ‘Los cronocrímenes’ was to play with paradoxes and see how the audience reacts to them. Perhaps. But, without anything attesting to it, it just left me frustrated. Entertained, but intellectually bitch-slapped.
And I can’t even travel back in time to stop myself from watching it.
Not that I would.
Or maybe… maybe.. I couldn’t even if I wanted to.
Date of viewing: December 2016