Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Shane Carruth

Primer poster  
Primer is not your typical movie, being about as far from big-budget entertainment for the masses as it's possible to go. It's the story of two engineers, Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan), who are working on building something in their garage. Using parts filched from work and from their car, they build a device with very strange properties indeed.

The main characters are both mild-mannered and technically adept, and Primer seems to be aimed at a similarly highbrow audience. It doesn't shy away from physics, in spite of the fact that you don't really need to understand much of it to grasp what their McGuffin does.

They know they have something amazing on their hands, but they're not quite sure exactly what it is or how to exploit it. What starts off as an observation of unusual mould growth soon leads them to the realisation that something much stranger is going on, as the true power of their invention is gradually revealed.

Abe and Aaron seem very ordinary, like the kind of tie-wearing guys you might meet any day. They have none of the gloss of your typical A-list actors, and this is one of the things that makes Primer all the more believable. It's very low-budget, with no special effects, a sparse cast, and a predominance of domestic scenes.

However subtle dialogue and an interesting story make up for the lack of big-budget polish. The simple score serves to emphasise how down-to-earth everything is, and this is a pleasing contrast to the sense of unreality you often find in movies.

However what initially seems like a simple story gets confusing when issues of causality some into play, and the ending is a little baffling. The last 20 minutes or so repay a second viewing.

Short and understated, Primer is an intriguing story about the temptations and dangers of unlimited power, and what really matters most to people. It's not a movie that will appeal to everyone, but if you're prepared to concentrate and you care more about good characters and ideas than showy effects then you'll find it worthwhile.

Film Details

Year: 2005

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 12

If you like this, try:

The Time Traveler    

The Time Traveler's Wife by Robert Schwentke
Henry can travel through time. But is his ability a blessing or a curse?

The Time Machine cover    

The Time Machine by Simon Wells
An adaptation of the novel by H.G. Wells.

Sunshine cover    

Sunshine by Danny Boyle
The sun is dying, so a group of astronauts set out on a mission to re-ignite it and save humanity.

4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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