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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 3, 2015

Review: Predestination - Mind-Boggling Film About Life And Time Travel

‘PREDESTINATION’ is a mind-boggling movie filmed in Melbourne that asks viewers to willingly suspend their disbelief. It won most of the honors in last year’s Australian Film Awards. Based on sci-fi icon Robert Heinlein’s 1959 short story, “All You Zombies”, it’s directed by Aussie brothers Michael and Peter Spierig who did horror flicks like “Daybreakers” and “Undead”.

The lead character is simply called Bartender (Ethan Hawke). He’s a special agent for an agency called the Temporal Bureau. His job takes him travelling through time with a time machine that looks like a violin case, taking him to the years 1945, 1963-64, 1970, 1975 while hunting down a dangerous terrorist, the Fizzle Bomber who has killed 112 people in four bombings in New York City. This intricate and ambitious film offers an altered and fictionalized version of the late 20th century.

In his travels, the Bartender meets a young man (Sarah Snook) with an amazing story to tell. The young man writes a “True Confessions” column called “The Unmarried Mother”. We won’t give away much of the story as it will truly be a spoiler. Suffice it to say that
Sarah Snook does a superlative job in playing two roles, first as a woman and then a man, and she registers so well in both roles.

At the outset, let’s tell you that the film requires great concentration. It’s definitely not action or special effects-oriented as the narrative unfolds leisurely. If you have short attention span and just watch a movie for mindless entertainment, then it’s not your cup of tea. We won’t be surprised if some viewers would require a second viewing to fully understand the time travel puzzle.

As a film of ideas, it asks questions about everything that happens to us in this life. Are events really predestined? Then this makes the concept of free will quite irrelevant. But if you’re time travelling, can you actually change the future? Does time stand still or is it forever changing? If everything is predetermined, can you still divert it? Such existential questions are posed, but not necessarily answered, so mainstream audiences will surely be alienated. Just remember the various timelines in the narrative because seemingly minor events take on a bigger meaning when viewed from different periods. It is really the manner that the varied pieces of the conundrum fit together that's so neatly and intriguingly done.

Ethan Hawke wisely chooses to play his role in a very low key manner as there are moments when he becomes a supporting character to the remarkable story of Sarah Snook. Hers is a such demanding role that requires great range and Snook (who previously starred in the horror flick “Jessabelle”) is simply astounding. If you’ve seen the Canadian series “Orphan Black” about clones (we saw the first season but didn’t find it interesting enough to watch the second one), Snook looks like the lead in that series, Tatiana Maslany, as a woman. As a man, she looks like Dane de Haan (Harry Osborne in “Amazing Spiderman 2” and the lead in “Life After Beth”). Honestly, she gave a much better performance than some of those who were nominated in the recent Oscar awards.