Studio: Screen Media
Director: Diego Hallivis
Writer: Brian DeLeeuw
Producer: Julio Hallivis, Diego Hallivis
Stars: Lyndsy Fonseca, Glenn Morshower, Alex Lanipekun, Noah Bean, Linda Hamilton, Zach Avery
An amnesiac engineer comes to suspect that she traveled back in time to stop herself from committing a vengeful murder.
It’s been one month since Helen’s husband Wells committed suicide. It’s also been one week since Helen gave Wells’ engineering partner Tomas permission to continue her husband’s research, and she finds herself oddly unable to remember anything between then and now.
Helen’s amnesiac mind barely has a moment to mull where the missing days went when a mysterious phone call instructs her to escape her home immediately. An unknown man suddenly breaks in, prompting Helen to hurriedly break out.
Unsure of where to pull the first thread that may unravel this riddle, Helen turns to her trusted coworker Alex. Together, the two of them follow clues Helen comes to suspect she may have actually left for herself. As Helen explains to Alex, Wells was working on time travel technology and it appears as though Helen is suffering the side effects of having gone through it. Helen isn’t sure how or for what purpose. But when she discovers that the voice on the phone was another version of her, Helen realizes she’ll have to uncover the truth before the shadowy men on her tail find Helen first.
As time travel thrillers go, “Curvature” is okay, for lack of a more enthusiastic adjective. Basic balls of hidden secrets, double cross twists, and unknown agendas are juggled in a simple circle over a relatively breezy 85 minutes. “Curvature” merely bobbles its ability to be more impressive because its story relies on everyone being unreasonably cryptic about everything in order to foster intrigue.
Solving the movie’s mystery, which could be done in the first ten minutes if anyone uttered a straight fact, forces Helen to travel a trial-and-error trail where the majority of actions involve puzzling out overcomplicated clues. Lyndsy Fonseca fares fine as Helen, yet has similarly little chance of achieving a better descriptor for her performance since the script keeps her narrowly focused on interacting with objects instead of predominantly with people.
Helen becomes so preoccupied with moving props or cracking passwords that she doesn’t have enough opportunities to engage emotionally. Scattered flashbacks fill in a few blanks, yet even then Helen is a passive observer of her own backstory. Helen otherwise wraps herself up in plot extension beats, not character development ones.
Another hurdle in Helen’s way is her passionless partner Alex. I won’t call out his name because I take no pleasure in panning an off-the-radar performer, but the actor playing Alex alternates between entirely unconvincing and outright hollow. His being blasé is made more unfortunate by hitching him to deeply personal moments with Helen that can’t land due to the roadblock of his pedestrian presence.
“Terminator” icon Linda Hamilton receives prominent billing for appearing in a disposable role literally any actress could play. If her two simple scenes were completely cut, no one would notice she was missing and the movie would remain unchanged. In fact, her character is so inconsequential that I thought perhaps Hamilton was added after the fact for name value alone. Apparently, reports out of the movie’s FilmQuest premiere contend that a family issue cut Hamilton’s availability short.
The film counters some characterization snags with outstanding action for low-budget sci-fi. The sore thumb about this though, is that these energetic scenes edit together rather well for a trailer, but feel forced within the context of a straightforward story. Helen steals a car at gunpoint when she could easily travel via less violent means. Other instances of opportunistic activity shove Helen into several foot chases, and a car one too, as contrivances collide to pick up the pace at the expense of making sense.
In this world, people generally act in the interests of entertainment as opposed to their own practical motivations. Turn your head after any reveal to see why someone did what s/he did and rarely will the rationale seem reasonable.
On the other hand, “Curvature” works better when one simply smashes the rearview mirror and buckles up for the mild ride. You won’t go above the speed limit, and you shouldn’t expect any hairpin turns. But as a satisfying spin down a straightaway, “Curvature” keeps enough gas in its tank to be moderately enjoyable in the moment. To put it in comparative terms, “Curvature” doesn’t come close to “Primer” or “Timecrimes” (review here) in terms of twisty time travel conundrums, though its small stakes scope would pair well with perhaps “2:22” (review here) or “Anti Matter” (review here) as an okay indie effort.
Review Score: 55