I find it somewhat curious that many of the best Time Travel films are comedies.
I suppose it is because the potential problems of time travel are on the whole rather absurd: running into yourself, having to repeat everything you did before exactly, running into different versions of people from alternate time lines, trying to sort out badly tangled timelines, repeating yourself, trying to keep it all straight – or, worst of all, becoming your own grandfather.
Let’s face it, they’re all a little undignified.
The Infinite Man is an amiable addition to this sub-sub-genre. Dean is devastated by the utter failure of his attempt to create the perfect anniversary weekend with his girlfriend. With the help of some pillaged equipment from work, he decides to set it right by creating a time travel device, so he can go back and get it right this time. Only he doesn’t realize that things aren’t as simple as they seem and that time travel can only make his efforts to sort out his romantic problems more complicated.
More than anything else, this film reminds me of the marvelous Japanese SF comedy, Summer Time Machine Blues, in which the simple set of events we witness at the beginning – even something as simple as a broken remote control – prove to be far more complicated than they seemed, thanks to the arrival of a mysterious time machine.
In The Infinite Man we soon find ourselves snarled up in a confusion of multiple time trips, as different versions of Dean, his girlfriend and her thuggish ex all proliferate, and we learn that many of the events were quite different from the way they originally appeared.
And then something happens which might catastrophically alter time and space itself…
While there have been Time Travelling RomComs before – Happy Accidents and Love & Teleportation both come to mind – I’m not sure that there are any others with this level of time travel complexity. What is most impressive is how Dean slowly grows up throughout the film (I’ll confess I particularly enjoyed one of the curious twists when he starts getting jealous of himself!).
There were moments, at about a third of the way into the film, when I started wondering whether time travel (as in certain arty Indie films like The Fourth Dimension) was in fact a delusion on Dean’s part, but, thankfully, writer/dirctor Hugh Sullivan resists that temptation, and, while the time travel elements are never really given any sort of scientific explanation, in the end, there’s an explanation for everything we’ve seen. That alone deserves a lot of praise.
It would be easy to grumble that this one adds nothing new (science fictionally speaking) to the basic time travel story, but that misses the point. This is the story of a man who loves someone, but for all that he thinks he knows her, keeps missing the really important things.
Well, not until the very end.
But we barely get to meet that Dean.