Saturday June 2, 2007

Tempus Fugit (Catalan, Enric Folch)

Posted by Karthik

Tempus Fugit (time flies) is a remarkable film. On one hand its a low budget, obviously made for TV (Televisió de Catalunya or TV3), Catalan language film playing out of an innocuous town square in Barcelona. On the other, it deals with highly romanticized concepts like time travel and saving the world with such nonchalance and witticism that I had an incredulous look on my face long after the film was over – mulling over how amazing the whole experience was!

As a huge fan of European cinema, particularly Spanish films, I may have stumbled upon this eventually, but actor Kamal Hassan hastened that process! In a well-syndicated 2004 interview (on the occasion of he turning 51!) Kamal had said that he has bought the remake rights of this film from its director Enric Folch. From that day on, I have wanted to lay my hands on this film. And managed it just last week!

Forget all the hyped up fantasy of Hollywood super stars saving the world and that Lucas-Spielberg-Zemeckis yarn about going back in time to have your dad pee on you (though I’m a complete sucker for good time travel scifi – I’m on to my 9th re-read of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and have completely devoured Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife).

Tempus Fugit explores the effects of being able to travel back and forth in time in boring and insignificant installments – half-day to 6-7 days, at a stretch. But the point is, much like Butterfly Effect (the film – the wikipedia definition!), small, utterly insignificant, initial variations can/ may lead to large changes in the long term. This fascinating theory is clubbed along with an average-nobody’s seemingly inconsequential (the opening credits of menthol drops being made in a factory is a brilliant touch!) every day act becoming significant enough to save the world – to an incredible effect.

The other strands of what men will do when they land up in a situation that empowers them with time travel capabilities is also handled with a remarkably believable and integral sub-plot involving a soccer fan (Terrades, played by Xavier Bertrán) who uses the special power – of all the things – to know the outcome of his team’s (Barca!) fate in the finals, against Real Madrid! One of the best scenes in the film involves Terrades speaking to his future self about how they (or is it just he?!) enjoy soccer and how their favorite food is the same, Brussels sprouts!

The leads – Ramon (Xavi Mira) and Angie (Neus Asensi) – the time-space paradox ridden couple, and Andros (William Miller), the future man who whips up this whole plot, are deceptively simple in their characterization, but thats precisely where and how the film derives most of its considerable charm. The extended slow-motion build-up to Ramon’s ridiculously normal, saving-the-world act is a tad predictable, but enjoyable nevertheless. The two final sparkling moments involve a regular apocalypse-predicting nut in the town square and the twist-end to the lead pairs’ romantic angle. Delightfully imagined ideas, both.

If by any freak chance you get to hire/ buy/ download this film, do it without a second thought. I consider myself extremely lucky that I was able to see this. Wonder when our man, Kamal Hassan, is going to remake this in India – his capability in converting foreign plots (mostly uncredited, this may be the exception!) is well proven and I’m quite sure he can pull this off rather well.

Aah, the other thing – word count be damned!

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