Monday, 1 December 2014

15 Second Review: Repeaters

Since it is a time-loop narrative, I was predisposed to like Repeaters. Bias aside, the film is nevertheless one of the smarter efforts in that micro-genre; it much stronger than its tepid reviews suggest [pro-tip: if anyone mentions Groundhog Day in a review for a time-loop film - as reviewers (ironically) seem to ad infinitum - stop reading... umm, except in this case]. Most explicitly, Repeaters is based on a moral thought-experiment: as the tagline has it 'what would you do' if there were no consequences for your actions? The three protagonists explore different answers to that question, resulting in degrees of self-destruction, (attempts) to forgive others, and outright criminality. These responses are augmented by a combination of the time-loop structure and the diegetic context; this imbricated thematic core is Repeaters' secret weapon. The opening depicts the three protagonists conversing about their damaged relationships in a rehab therapy session. Thus, the film grounds its moral thought-experiment in concerns regarding a) the damage drug-fueled hedonism has on one's social ties - which is paralleled by their initial reactions to the time-loop - b) cycles of addiction, including the propensity to downplay consequences in favor of short-term fulfillment and descent into unsatisfying compulsion in the long-term, and c) the cyclic nature of therapy, which provides a rigid structure that forces individuals to dwell on their actions: the goal is to affect change, but therapy can feel closer to stasis because it necessitates revisiting the past. These latter themes are astutely captured by the loop-framework. This rich, multilayered approach to form and theme results in a film that far transcends its modest budget. 

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