A man is after me. He's trying to kill me.
Time-travel movies start with a deficit for me, as I'm not particularly fascinated by the theoretical loops and paradoxes on which they often rely for a majority of their impact. Time-travel gimmickry can, however, be used to effectively run engaging characters through interesting circumstances, making them reflect meaningfully on their lives. As I'm more interested in emotional experience than mechanical skill, Nacho Vigalando's Timecrimes (a.k.a. Los Cronocrímenes) was impressive as a narrative exercise, but wrestled too little with its own implications.
Héctor (Karra Elejalde), an ordinary middle-aged man, finds himself caught in an escalating series of complications after using a time machine to escape a violent attacker. Vigalando's movie has all of the criss-crossing actions and temporal snafus that genre fans want from their time-travel movies, and they are neatly designed and executed. Although Timecrimes is a Spanish production, tonally it seemed to take inspiration from the Italian gialli of the 1970s, giving it a slightly dirty roughness as well as an appealing and deceitfully "plain" visual style that incorporates striking elements with low-budget disregard. Where Timecrimes failed to mean more to me than a clever premise, however, was its choice of protagonist. Hector is not only obtuse, but both a jerk and a creep. His problems are unforced errors of his own making. While the end of Timecrimes acknowledges the futility of its narrative with a final note that I appreciated more than anything else, there isn't a shred (or even a delusion) of honor in how Héctor deals with his predicament, or any other circumstances that might elicit empathy for him as he tries to untie his own knots. Ultimately, Timecrimes was too much about its own gimmick and too little about its characters.
Timecrimes was brought to my Potluck Film Fest by Flickchart supremo Nathan Chase, who has nine Time-travel movies in the Top 10% of his Flickchart. He ranks Timecrimes at #81 (95%), making it his 6th favorite of that genre out of a total of 44. Timecrimes ranked on my Flickchart at 1606 (59%). With only two Time Travel movies in my Top 10%, it sits at #17 out of 37 for the Time-travel genre.
As movies are added to this list, I'll add them to Letterboxd, here: