THE INFINITE MAN – SXSW 2014 Movie Review
Dir: Hugh Sullivan
Everyone has a time in their past that they never forget. A time they wish could be taken back or replayed. A lost opportunity, an embarrassing moment or waiting too long to say the right thing. In The Infinite Man director Hugh Sullivan explores the possibilities that exist were there a chance to re-do these moments.
Dean (Josh McConville, The Turning) is a scientist that is deeply in love with Lana (Hannah Marshall, Packed to the Rafters). On their one year anniversary they return to the motel they stayed at the previous year in Dean’s attempt to relive the magic of that previous trip. While Lana would rather visit the beach, Dean is insistent on returning to the motel. To their surprise the motel has been abandoned. Instead of leaving Dean insists on making the best of the situation and sticking to his itinerary. To ensure the prefect vacation Dean has scheduled and mapped out their stay, planning everything out from meal menu to an accordion serenade, exactly as it occurred the year before. Along with his schedule Dean has brought along his latest invention, a device that will record their memories of the vacation. His intention is to record the memories so they may revisit the happy moments they create.
As the couple tries to make the best of there situation, Lana’s former boyfriend Terry (Alex Dimitriade, Head On, The Slap), a disgraced Olympic javelin thrower (it’s relevant), shows up and causes a rift between Lana and Dean. Alex Dimitriade’s performance as Terry stands out. He plays the sleazy, chain smoker with charm and charisma. Dean’s insecurities get the best of him. In a moment he wishes he can take back Dean drives Lana away. Emotionally drained and depressed Dean decides to stay at the the motel for an entire year and build a time machine. His plan is to lure Lana back to the motel on their anniversary and travel back in time with her to relive the spoiled trip, this time with no flaws. Dean’s plan is set in motion on their anniversary when Lana returns but quickly becomes a jumbled mess. Unplanned events cause Dean to repeatedly travel back in time until multiple Dean’s, Lana’s and Terry’s coexist at the motel. While Dean is trying to strategically navigate the time loops he has created he must deal with all the emotions and insecurities that led him into his predicament.
The Infinite Man is Hugh Sullivan’s first full-length feature film. He has crafted an enjoyable tale that goes beyond sci-fi, time travel shtick and explores the differences in male/female relationship expectations. As a scientist Dean’s nature is to question, control, experiment and observe. His obsession with spending the perfect get away with Lana blinds him to the simplicity of Lana’s needs. Dean means well and just wants to give Lana the world, all Lana wants is Dean by her side at the beach. The Infinite Man plays up this Rom/Com theme subtly within all the time loops and twists. The romantic theme becomes the heart of the movie. It works well and gives the film personality, making it a movie that time travel and non-time travel movie fans can enjoy.
In regards to time travel genre it works. Using a very limited budget and the perfect set location Sullivan creates a world capable of inhabiting multiple Deans and company. The beauty of time travel films are the simplicity and complexity of them. You don’t need a big budget and massive amounts of CGI to film one. The best time travel films have strong stories, capable actors and good direction. No different from the requirements for any other good movie. Time Crimes, one of my favorites of the genre comes to mind. The Infinite Man follows the same path. It’s easy to get lost in the details, scientific process and ethical questions involved in time travel. It’s best to keep it simple. The Infinite Man does this by keeping Dean focused on his mission. The concept of time travel is very complex when you stop to think about it. Instead of making the film a jumbled mess Sullivan and cast deliver a film driven by great dialogue and physical comedy. The chemistry between cast members is solid. Sullivan has created characters full of life and emotion that are so much fun to watch.
I’m looking forward to future projects by Sullivan. He has created a well crafted tale of love, science and the human desire for the perfect moment. If given the chance would it be worth going back in time? It’s enjoyable to imagine how we would change those moments we regret or embarrass us, but those mistakes and missed opportunities are what define us. It’s what makes us human.