Skip to main content

Predestination

The Sprierig Brothers' last film, 2009's Daybreakers, was good but it had issues. It started strong, had kind of a muddle in the middle, and wobbled completely off the tracks by the end. Their latest film, Predestination, is almost exactly the opposite and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Based on the short story "All You Zombies—" by Robert A. Heinlein (who, as an aside, is my all-time favorite author), Predestination starts with a bit of a wobble, muddles into coherency in the middle, and has a spectacular conclusion. The Spierigs almost slavishly adhere to Heinlein's story while at the same time adding a new subplot that allows the it to effortlessly expand to become a feature-length film.

Ethan Hawke plays a temporal agent, a time traveler, working as a bartender in an alternate reality version of New York City. In comes the "Unmarried Mother," a man who writes for a woman's confessional magazine. Only he started life as a she and so the story goes.

To tell more would ruin the fun. Though saying so is faintly blasphemous, I sort of wish I'd never read Heinlein's short story. Because I had, the opening act of the film seems wordy and chock-a-block full of exposition. Since I knew what was going on, I got a little restless for things to really get started. Going in cold might have made the experience better, so I don't really want to discuss the plot or characters any further other than to say that maybe the film doesn't start as wobbly as I thought.

Hawke does a fine job, but the revelation is Sarah Snook. She plays man, woman, etc., with aplomb and style. If her makeup as a man isn't entirely convincing, that's the point. Remember, she started life as a woman and became a man. It's the circumstances of that transformation, and the emotional toll it takes on the character, that are the point, and Snook brings out those nuances with a fine performance.

I can't emphasize this enough. Snook has to sell the entire character and she succeeds wildly. She's already won the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts award (Predestination was made in Australia) for Best Lead Actress for this performance. If there's a hint of justice in the world, she'll at least get an Oscar nomination next year.

Predestination is beautifully shot, winning the AACTA award for Cinematography. The editing is clean, the pace steady. The few visual effects are subtle and nicely done. The ambient music is perfect. Etc.

Snook's performance aside, the best thing about the film is that it's intelligent and assumes the audience is, too. You are allowed the contemplate the implications of the end without the filmmakers drawing you a paint-by-the-numbers map. It's refreshing.

As is the entire film. Predestination is a small film with an original, and challenging, story. It's well worth your time to seek out and see. If you can't find it at a theatre near you (I couldn't), it's available for rent or purchase via Amazon Instant Video, Xbox Video, or (if you must) iTunes.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Not the Hero We Deserve, But the Hero We Need

The Dark Knight is the best film I’ve seen in years. Not just the best “superhero” film, but the best film of any type. It’s not perfect, not quite a masterpiece, but it’s flaws are, to me, tiny and overwhelmed by the time the film ends. While relatively bloodless, it is consistently brutal, not just in what it depicts but in the themes that drive it. TDK is a film for adults, please leave the kids at home.Let’s deal with those “flaws” first, the largest being the character Rachel Dawes. In Batman Begins, I blamed Katie Holmes. Her acting was weak, to say the least, which is regrettable in that who she is and what she says and does are important to the film. Critics agreed and either for that or other reasons, Katie was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is a better actress. Yet here she’s weak, real weak. Maybe it’s the character, not the actress, which is frustrating because Rachel is a pivotal character. The film, at almost two and a half hours, might be a shade long. Having said t…

About that "Steven Spielberg ending" comment

All right, when I wrote about the film V for Vendetta, I said the "happy ending" was an ending Steven Spielberg would have been proud of. Is there someone out there who doesn't get it? I can think of precisely one film that Spielberg didn't slap some sort of "and they all lived happily ever after" ending onto, and that was Munich (which sucked in its own right and for other reasons).Most of his films righteously have happy endings. Kill the shark, absolutely. Hero wins the day, without a doubt. Some poor schmuck prevails over homicidal big rig, yea!But as I recall, his first theatrical film didn't have all that happy an ending. Indeed, I think the protaganist gets his ass shot off and dies. Which was proper, since that was based on a real story and that's really what happened.And does Close Encounters of the Third Kind really have a "happy" ending? Our hero goes off with the aliens, and the music swells to happiness, but he's just aban…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I went and saw The Last Jedi shortly after it came out and at first I didn't really feel like writing a thing about it. Why? Because the film just left me apathetic; I just didn't care. But I've been seeing arguments and counter-arguments fly back and forth, especially the aggregate professional critic (very high) versus the aggregate viewer (pretty low) scores. So, what the heck, here's my two cents' worth. And because I want to work myself up to a proper, full venting, there will be spoilers a-plenty.

We join the action shortly after the events of The Force Awakens. The Resistance (with no clear idea of what they're actually resisting) is fleeing from the relentless pursuit of The First Order (with no clear idea of what their order actually is). Death is closing in on our less-than-plucky heroes. Much running ensues.

And that's it, the entire plot in a nutshell. Yes, Rey (Daisy Ridley) goes off to receive training from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). But it…