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Australia 2014
Directed by
Hugh Sullivan
85 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Chris Thompson
3.5 stars

The Infinite Man

Synopsis: Unorthodox scientist Dean (Josh McConville) has an elaborate plan for the perfect anniversary weekend with Lana (Hannah Marshall) but when her ex-boyfriend, Terry (Alex Dimitriades), unexpectedly arrives it all goes terribly wrong. So Dean devises a way of traveling back in time to put things right but winds up creating multiple versions of himself who are all competing for the love of the same girl. When he ends up losing Lana in a recurring temporal loop, he must overcome his many selves in order to have any hope of salvaging their relationship.

The Infinite Man is a smart, funny Möbius Strip of a time travel story, a bit like a comic version of Shane Carruth’s 2004 mind-bender, Primer. Like all good tales of travelling through time, it lives or dies on the integrity of its temporal logic. In this case it’s working on the theory that your present self can see and even interact with past or future versions of yourself and, once you buy into that conceit, it’s easy to accept the screwball-style mayhem that follows. The funniest moments come from Dean’s present-day self being less concerned with the apparent threat to his relationship that comes with Terry’s arrival, than he is with his all-consuming jealousy of how well his future self is doing with Lana. He just can’t be happy that in another timeline he’s got exactly what he wants.

As the story progresses, it becomes a bit like a shell game. You start out being pretty confident about who is who and which relationship is which, but by the time there are two Lanas, two Terrys and three Deans running around, the mental gymnastics required to keep up with the plot becomes exasperating. To the film’s credit, though, this level of confusion becomes a major part of its entertainment value, rather than a detractor from the experience. Add to this the strikingly visual and suitably contained setting of an abandoned motel in the middle of the desert and you also have the elements of a five-door farce which are used here to great effect.

What’s disappointing, however, is that despite the impressive architecture of its time shifting story, the characters lack the warmth and endearment that would have allowed the romance of the story to match the strength of its science fiction. Most problematic for me is how much of an obsessive, whiny, control-freak Dean is and, whilst this allows the film to reflect on our tendency to use devices to record and comment on all the moments of our lives, rather than just living them, it makes it difficult to believe that Lana would even consider giving him another chance. This, in turn, reduces her character to an object of affection rather than an independently thinking, intelligent young woman. It’s a shame, really, because all three performances are strong and could have brought so much more to the romantic comedy elements of the film.

What The Infinite Man does give us, though, is an excellent example of how a cleverly structured, well thought through science fiction idea can easily stand on its own without the embellishments of a squillion dollars worth of special effects.




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