Thursday, 22 January 2015

REVIEW - PREDESTINATION (MICHAEL SPIERIG AND PETER SPIERIG)


Time twists around itself in the Spierig brothers' Predestination, which is twisty in so many definitions of the word. A pleasingly self-contained thriller, what appear to be its whims and implausibilities are all cleverly justified by its premise. The Spierigs use a time travel device neither as a gimmick nor as an accoutrement - it's the foundation and the inspiration for a thrilling, surprising sci-fi film. Like the best sci-fi films, its wonderful construction and strong visual styling make it memorable, its intellectual and emotional currents make it unforgettable. What's unique about Predestination is how smartly it combines these elements, drawing them all from the same chronological source. Fittingly, everything is connected in this film, more so than it ever appears, and the manner in which the connections are made, as revealing to the characters as to us (this being the key to an effective twist, that we do not ever feel hoodwinked), is exemplary. Emphasising the human story at the core of the scientific one distracts us, insisting that we invest in what we are experiencing, thus missing some of the subtle clues that the Spierigs don't shy from including, and also reacting more strongly when the picture becomes clear. Or just clearer. Structurally, there's a very smart usage of the passing of time, whereby the film is split in half due to a flashback-style narrative in the first half, that's actually all set within one location; it's terrific stuff, the natural amplification of intensity as the scenes, quite simply, increase in quantity and decrease in length, while the early flashbacks ensure that this isn't too abrupt, nor too deflating, an adjustment. The film's style is fairly basic, and there are some niggling continuity errors, but all is redeemed by the sheer force of the film's audacious narrative twists, and by committed performances: Ethan Hawke is charismatic as a time-travelling agent, and Sarah Snook utterly magnetic as... I wouldn't dare say. She's completely brilliant, though.