In Diego Hallivis’ Curvature,which premiered at the Filmquest Film Fest in Utah last year and opens Friday for an exclusive engagement at Tower City Cinemas, Helen (Lyndsy Fonseca) must break into a top-secret facility and travel back in time to prevent herself from committing a murder.
The films co-stars Jim Gaffigan look-alike Glenn Morshower and a bad actor named Zach Avery who plays Helen’s befuddled co-worker and whose sole purpose amounts to describing the film’s plot as it unfolds. He makes remarks such as “you were just gone” and “that was definitely your car.”
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But this aspirational sci-fi thriller just doesn’t have enough meat on its bones to sustain a 90-minute run time. You get the sense that it would love to be mentioned in the same sentence as Shane Carruth’s 2004 cult-classic time-travel flick Primer,though it has none of the originality or low-budget verve. In production value, performance quality and script depth, it views much more like a TV episode, focused on the travails of a heroine and her bumbling sidekick, both of whom are supposed to be genius engineers, as they elude generic corporate bad guys from “the lab.”
Aside from occasionally artful camera work and some truly lovely interiors — both Helen’s home and cabin look as if they’ve been copied wholesale from a Pottery Barn catalog — the film offers little to recommend it. After nearly 60 minutes, you’ll still be scratching your head over basic plot points.
We learn early on that Helen’s embarrassingly named husband “Wells” — get it? H.G. Wells? Who wrote The Time Machine? —has committed suicide. Wells’ partner Tomas (Morshower) tells Helen that he would like to continue their groundbreaking work — time travel, presumably. Helen then wakes up to discover that a week has elapsed. She gets an emergency phone call from her future self and is instructed to flee from a pursuer in the same play-by-play style that Morpheus used when guiding Neo away from Agent Smith in an early Matrix scene.
Repairing to her cabin with Alex (Avery), who reveals that he, too, lost a loved one some years back — cue the sappy musical accompaniment — Helen tries to figure out what on earth is happening. But in this slow and sedate cabin interlude, she’s visited by visions of cloud formations, wide-scale ecological disaster, and sentimental moments with Wells before she and Alex process the various ill-defined plots playing out around them.
In keeping with its TV episode style, Curvaturefeatures a cameo by Linda Hamilton of Terminatorfame. It also stages a decent car flip for a film of presumably tight budget constraints. But the budget wasn’t the problem here. It would have required a full script overhaul in order to overcome its assorted drawbacks.