As I have said before, I fall asleep during movies. I fell asleep during "Primer," even though the movie is a very efficient 80 minutes. Bad choice. I only dozed off for a few minutes, but they were critical minutes.
I had no clue what happened. Today I ran the film again from that last place I remember understanding what was going on. Turns out I would have still been confused, even if I had stayed awake. I paid attention, I listened to the dialog well, and at the end, I still had to check wikipedia to understand what the hell happened.
Thank goodness for wikipedia. But it begs the question, can a film be great if I have to check wikipedia afterword to understand it?
The answer is no, at least in my opinion, but "Primer" sure came close. Yes, I was very confused at the end, but wow it was an intense movie. My wife said she was totally lost, but her heart was pounding just the same.
The acting was superb, and the only reason I didn't like the low production values was that I couldn't quite hear the complex dialogue, and you really really really need to hear the dialogue. So what I would change, and what would make it much less confusing, is to add a scene or voiceover that gives a little bit of context and information about how the time traveling began to spin out of control. It wouldn't need to be much.
"Primer" is supposed to be the most accurate filmic portrayal of time travel, and from the movies I've seen, I totally agree. Time travel is scary, messy, and ultimately results in a dynamic (and thus an effective absence of) history and future. I don't think we humans are capable of accurately understanding, describing, or portraying what time travel actually is, but I think "Primer" has gotten the closest to it.
As a separate issue, I really liked the complex dialogue (but I wish the audio was better). I read that the director intentionally left it complex rather than dumbing it down for us. Yes, much of it went over my head, but I think the complex dialogue was nicely juxtaposed with a very complicated plot and concept.
Good film. I feel smarter for having watch "Primer."
comments by Andy