Fantasia Film Fest Review: SYNCHRONICITY
When 2007’s THE SIGNAL first hit audiences, it did a hell of a job showing a small glimpse of the capabilities of the film’s trio of writer/directors, David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry. Each director’s segment felt completely different from the previous director’s, and there was a sense of promise that you felt upon watching the film, one that made you know each of the three filmmakers would go onto promising futures in storytelling. Bruckner went on to direct the best segment of the first V/H/S film and is now set to helm the latest FRIDAY THE 13TH, while Bush directed one of the most memorable films of this year, the sci-fi grounded in reality film THE RECONSTRUCTION OF WILLIAM ZERO (review). Gentry, following THE SIGNAL, focused on solid short films, and the made for MTV slasher series of films, MY SUPER PSYCHO SWEET 16. While this short history lesson might seem like an odd way of starting a film, it’s crucial to realize how each filmmaker went on to do good work, and there’s a mind-blowing level of technical and storytelling accomplishments in what is EASILY one of the best sci-fi films to have been made in years, the Gentry-directed time travel film, SYNCHRONICITY.
Focusing on Jim Beale, a physicist who, along with his two physicist colleagues, Chuck and Matty (a film-stealing duo of AJ BOWEN and SCOTT POYTHRESS), has invented a machine that will open a wormhole in the universe, allowing them to send something into it and have it come back through the other side. Being both Beale’s investor and biggest threat, is the wealthy Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), a man who doesn’t care about the advances in science that Beale is on the tip of making, but is completely interested in the monetary gain and taking control of the machine. The early in the film dilemma of this does a fine job of bringing viewers into a story that from the first couple of scenes, you can tell will be a very layered one.
The crucial element to pushing Beale and the story along, is the sudden appearance of Abby (Brianne Davis), a woman that Beale doesn’t know if he can trust, but is drawn to right from her first appearance, following what seems like an unsuccessful test of the machine. As viewers, we know that the femme fatale-like character of Abby has secrets and almost immediately, Jim finds out the hard way, with realizing that he has been double crossed by Meisner and Abby. While that seems like a lot of plot given, that’s DEFINITELY not the case, as SYNCHRONICITY strives on making you think you know what’s going on, what’s going to happen, and what you think you saw the first time around. Feeling completely betrayed, Beale decides to run into the wormhole himself, and try to change the events that happened, and off we as viewers go, directly into a story full of twists and turns, and enough revelations to make your jaw drop. It’s a film that is so full of layers, that each time one is peeled back, you find yourself wondering why you didn’t realize something the first time around, and causing you to bask in the glory of a true accomplishment in not only the sci-fi genre but in filmmaking in general. What’s so interesting about the film is how certain things change the way you think, with each of those revelations. Initially the film felt a bit miscast, with Beale (THE SIGNAL and ER‘s Chad McKnight) and Abby feeling a little bit off, but as the film and its many mysteries and twists happen, you find yourself realizing why you felt the way you did and the film just works so wonderfully. A film’s lead is only as good as the characters who support said lead, and the duo of Bowen and Poythress do such great jobs in roles that are beneficial to the story and film, playing the concerned friend/colleague and the awkward and nervous sidekick to great results. Combined with the fractured, noir-like love story between Jim and Abby, the villainous and stern performance from Ironside, those roles all gel together to provide such a refreshingly original film.
Aside from SYNCHRONICITY‘s successes in performances and storytelling, a gigantic marvel of amazement comes in the form of both the film’s score by Ben Lovett and the film’s visual scope, which just seems so very huge. Gentry creates a world that feels futuristic yet current, very technologically advanced, but also of today in various other ways. It feels like a huge studio film, one that would sit very confidently next to films like DARK CITY and the recent PREDESTINATION in terms of smart, science fiction filmmaking with a budget. With the ability to create a film and world that seems astronomically larger than the film’s budget, this writer would be happy with Gentry at the helm of a huge studio film, I mean, hell, why isn’t HE directing the upcoming BLADE RUNNER sequel?! Until the day in which something on that level happens (and mark my words, it will), SYNCHRONICITY is a bold and original take on the sci-fi genre, very smart and a film that will stay with you, long after it’s over.