The Sudden Time Loop: A Discussion on Timecrimes

Karra Elejalde in Timecrimes, directed by Nacho Vigalondo

Oftentimes, time travel films focus on the technical and technological aspects of the fluidity of time that it becomes increasingly difficult for others to follow the story. Enter the 2007 Spanish science fiction thriller Timecrimes, directed by Nacho Vigalondo, which focuses on a simple man named Hector who finds himself in a time loop and a desperate journey to undo his mistakes. One of the great things about the film is that despite the lack of special effects commonly used in science fiction films, Timecrimes takes you an intriguing adventure that you cannot help but watch. This is not to say that the film is easy to understand since it does not focus on the technical aspects; rather, the film confuses you through the story itself because of the use of narrative intransitivity. There is no cause-and-effect driven narrative in the beginning because we do not know what started the the time loop in the first place. Initially, we think that it might be the scientist, but we are quite unsure as the film progressed. There seems to be no relation between the scenes, such as “Why was there a naked lady in the forest?” However, the interconnection between the main character’s actions becomes clearer in the middle of the film as we discover that there are two other versions of Hector. By revealing the intentions behind the initial actions at a latter part of the film, the audience is hooked and patiently waiting for the explanations to their questions. The film becomes exciting and despite being a thriller — where one is usually scared, you are begging for more once some things start to make sense.

However, boy were we wrong to expect that we will get an explanation for the whole story. Happy endings usually provide satisfaction to the audience since they usually tie up the loose ends of the story. However, although Timecrimes might have given us a sort of happy ending since Hector 3 was able to rescue her wife at the cost of the life of an innocent girl, we find it hard to move on and get up from our seats because we have even more questions that were left unanswered. The biggest question at the end of the film remains: How did the time loop start? We can come up with as many theories as we can, but we will never get the resolution we need. Yet, instead of ruining the film for the audience, this technique of leaving questions unanswered heightens our experience and allows us to appreciate the complexity of the story. The happy ending we get is reality, that sometimes, our happiness comes at the expense of someone else’s pain. Being unable to have our questions unanswered gives room reflection and ignites a rich discussion with others who watched the film. In the end, Timecrimes reminds us that perhaps, there are things that will happen in our lives with which we cannot provide an explanation, and the only way to survive is to deal with them.

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