Primer (2004) Film Review

Shane Carruth is an interesting director. I can’t call him a great one, but an interesting one. Earlier this year, I watched Upstream Color, his 2nd film. It was intriguing, engaging, and challenging. Did I understand all of it? Absolutely not. But, did it completely alienate me? No. Primer did. Unlike Upstream Color, which was interesting and at least somewhat comprehensible, Primer isn’t comprehensible unless you’re extremely intelligent. And I mean extremely intelligent. The first 30 minutes could barely be called exposition, rather it’s uninteresting science and math jargon that won’t make sense to most of the audience. Right from the start, it alienates such a large portion of the audience. And I’m not saying I need all the plot details to be spoon fed to me, I like complex and challenging films and as I said earlier, I enjoyed his latest film, Upstream Color. A film still needs to give me something to work with but this film almost never does.

I won’t call the film completely uninteresting because it still has some aspects that intrigued me because I’m a sucker for the concept of time travel. The few things that I did understand in this film were interesting but that doesn’t change the fact that the movie is constantly bogged down by it’s science and math talk that I don’t understand. Ironically enough, I love the film Looper, which Shane Carruth had a slight involvement in due to his work in Primer. The difference between Looper and Primer is that Looper actually avoids the time travel explanation and actually has an interesting film that is smart at the same time where as Primer is just an alienating mess. I do appreciate Shane Carruth’s one man movie making style because for the most part, he did nearly everything in this film from actually being the star in this film. The acting isn’t incredible but it’s good enough to suffice the film. It’s hard for me to recommend this film in anyway because I could barely understand any of it. I can’t even explain the plot really besides saying it’s about time travel. My number one issue is that frankly, I just don’t care. What I mean by that is I don’t really care to know what this film is about because it is rarely intriguing. If you want to be challenged, I guess watch this but there are far better films out there with a challenge but aren’t completely alienating.

2/5 stars.

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