Shane Carruth is a name that many people might not know, but indie film fans will probably be very familiar with his work. His most recent film, ‘Upstream Color’ was a bizarre but beautiful film, that was experimental in it’s delivery but still packed a strong emotional punch. That was in 2013, nine years after his debut directorial effort sent some shock waves through the indie movie scene. ‘Primer’ was a fantastic example of what great writing and directing can produce on a tiny budget.
The film is about a group of four entrepreneurs who are attempting to build some very high tech error checking machines, which they hope will make them a lot of money. However, along the way they inadvertently create a machine which has the ability to help them travel through time. What ensues is a down to earth and realistic look at what would really happen in such a situation (granted, the situation itself is not as realistic), and also how it affects the people involved.
What the film really explores is the relationship between the two main characters and how it struggles to survive the strains placed on it by such a discovery. It places them in positions of moral question, and they both approach it differently. They use it for things like predicting the stock market, and while this works for a while the dangers catch up with them eventually. I won’t give up much more than that, but the film digs into a few different angles.
The other thing the film really highlights is the nature of discovery, particularly scientific. Time travel is something we consider to be fiction, but the film presents it like any other scientific discovery, made by people who were not expecting it and unprepared to deal with it. Many of the best discoveries in history have been made in such a manner, and the end results have been broken friendships, millionaires, tragedies and happiness. A wide array of endings to such a story, and Primer just presents it’s own take.
If you enjoy sci-fi movies, especially the type that don’t rely on massive budgets and overdone special effects, then Primer is a film that you have to check out. Not to mention if you are an aspiring filmmaker with few resources available, it is an inspiration to the type of film you can create. Check it out!