“You scientists and your god complexes.”
When a time travel movie takes its science seriously, it’s easy for a layman like myself to get hung up on the logic. But who cares as long as the film is entertaining. Primer? To a certain degree I have no clue what the hell’s going on in that film, but it’s still enjoyable. Such is the case with Jacob Gentry’s Synchronicity, which recently saw its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival. With its retro-future aesthetics and shadowy film noir atmosphere, it harkens back to films like Blade Runner and Dark City. Despite its visual similarities to these films, Synchronicity is its own little beast – one that enjoys toying with genre tropes (particularly the femme fatale) as much as it honors them.
Chad McKnight stars as sleep-deprived physicist Jim Beale, who’s on the verge of opening a wormhole that will prove it’s possible to send objects through time. He’s assisted in the lab by Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matty (Scott Poythress), two fellow scientists that have a serious C-3PO and R2-D2 vibe going on. Matty’s the neurotic, stats-based guy (3PO) while Chuck is the more passionate, adventurous one (R2). They provide some nice comic relief throughout the film.
Beale’s the brains, but his research relies heavily on the funds of venture capitalist Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), who’s far more interested in how he can make bank on this experiment rather than any significant contribution to mankind. After the first test experiment reveals an unidentifiable human running through the wormhole, Beale encounters the seductive Abby (Brianne Davis) outside the lab. Where did she come from? Is she sleeping with Klaus? What does she stand to gain in this whole mind-warping, time-folding debacle? And how come ever since she showed up Beale began suffering from crippling headaches?
To answer these questions, Beale steps through the wormhole, sending himself back in time to the beginning. But is it the same dimension or a parallel one? Does the front gate squeak or not (sorry, it’s hard for me to resist Sliders references).
The story, written by Gentry and Alex Orr, is a very tightly-wound. Like I said, it’s easy to lose your head in the science, but Synchronicity is entertaining as hell from start to finish. The narrative is given a big boost by the Ben Lovett’s synth-laden score that recalls the iconic Vangelis music of Blade Runner. Much of the production design does as well, with venetian blinds to spare. Beale even ascends to his boss’ corporate office in a glass elevator, similar to Roy Batty’s trip to see Tyrell.
While a lot of comparisons can be drawn in the design and sounds, Synchronicity’s script, humor, and overall theme of love and science make it a singular film. Abby herself takes the femme fatale trope and flips it on its head – playing with our expectations. Beale falls into her web, but his actions that follow aren’t that of your typical film noir sucker. Fans of genre-bending time travel flicks will definitely not want to miss this one.