The Gift of Low Expectations

So, I watched this last night.

I was kinda hard-up and it was one of the few movies available I had even a sliver of interest in seeing. I didn’t have high hopes it would be good. In fact, I was pretty sure it would be laughably bad. So you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found myself paying close attention to the film. Well, as close as I could with a baby toddling around.

The movie has several things to recommend it, assuming you’re a fan of the genre, which I would describe as dystopian, near-future soft-scifi.

  • The premise, which you probably mistook for something else during its poorly-made trailers, is pretty neat in a creepy, sad sort of way. It is–first and foremost–the thing that keeps you hooked. You want to know where the hell the story can possibly go.
  • You may find the near-constant shots of the arm-numbers (which keep track of how much time the characters have to live) annoying, but I found it an effective to way to drive home the urgency of everyone’s situation. I was actually fairly uncomfortable throughout most of the film. So…well done (?), filmmakers.
  • In Time is darker than you may expect. With the rich living in heavily gated communities, the poor are left to suffer in ghettos, living day to day. Literally. See, time is currency, and because the residents of the ghetto are so poor they often only have hours or days to their name. Every day is struggle to survive.
  • Once you know where the film is going, it reveals its message. Sure, it reveals it unsubtly, but who cares? It’s a good message and one that bears repeating as often as possible. So, here’s what you know so far: the wealthy are living lives of tremendous privilege in gated communities far removed from the rubble, who lead lives that barely worth living. These wealthy people and the police state take pride in preserving the status quo. One of the movie’s antagonists claims it is ultimate expression of “Darwinian capitalism.” He also says many must die to preserve the lives of the immortal. Um, could the message be anymore clear? No? OK, well, when the two leads begin robbing huge time banks that will probably clear everything up for you. *wink*
  • What’s better is Cillian Murphy playing a “Time Keeper,” who represents those members of the oppressed classes who are always ready to kick their fellow citizens in the face once they get a taste of ruling-class approval. It’s pretty profound now that I think of it.
  • The ghetto really does seem like a depressingly horrible place. Everything seemed so ugly, so joyless. But what was interesting was the rich community was joyless in its own slick, cloistered way. This is not a happy film.

I enjoyed the performances of just about everyone, but felt the romance between Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried was out of place. It felt chemistry-less and forced. Their relationship would have resonated more had they found themselves becoming friends.

But, yeah, on balance, In Time is definitely worth a rent.

I also saw What’s Your Number? I know…romantic comedy…booooooo. But the movie’s premise was what got my ass in the seat: See this woman has to go and find all her ex-boyfriends, all who promised to be weird losers. Now tell me that is not recipe for KOOKINESS. Oh, I thought kookiness would be ensuing all over the place. ‘Cuz I assumed the film was essentially going to be an excuse to have talented comedienne Anna Farris doing kooky things with a series of famous funny guys doing cameos. And I just knew the kookiness would come and it would be SO FUNNY. Well, there was NO FUCKING KOOKINESS. Just mediocre acting, romantic comedy cliches and shlock. Horrible, horrible movie. I’m dumber for having watched it.


8 thoughts on “The Gift of Low Expectations

    • I actually thought the movie did an ok job of pointing out silly “the number” was. Coulda done much better, but it could have been MUCH WORSE. And I so agree about Anna. I have to believe she’ll get the perfect vehicle for her talents one of these days.

  1. “In Time” was pretty catchy. It made sense to me to have a character that given the opportunity to be immortal would not think it worthwhile. Having the rich be more driven and neurotic than happy and fulfilled was realistic to me, too.

    I agree with your assessment on the romantic shtick having no chemistry. The co-conspirator angle could have been more developed, especially since they were from opposite ends of the social order.

    I love the old school Jet Lee movies. He never even kisses the girl; but the relationship is meaningful, the mutual respect evident, and the woman is key to the action as an entire personality; not just because she has something that the hero needs to move the plot.

    • I really like it when women are more that just accessories and afterthoughts. It seems rare, though, in film.

      It made sense to me to have a character that given the opportunity to be immortal would not think it worthwhile.


  2. For shits and giggles, Google Big Hollywood’s reviews of In Time: When Christian Totao reviewed it at release he called it a cheap Occupy Wall Street type protest movie, and when Nolte reviewed it on video he called it a chilling vision of the future under Obamacare. Really.

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