Sometimes you need a popcorn extravaganza, with explosions and fistfights galore. That’s fine, there’s no shame in that, we all need something to switch off and enjoy. On the flipside, sometimes you need a good low-key brain-bender, something that you really have to pay attention to in order to get the most out of it. It’s tough going and you loose the thread at times, but when it all clicks into place and you figure out, it’s such a rush, a wave of satisfaction.
Primer is not such a movie, though it desperately wants to be. in it, four young men are hard at work building a mysterious machine in someone’s garage. What’s the machine? What does it do? What sinister plot will unravel? Fucked if I know, I started drifting off halfway through.
The problem with the film is that it completely fails to engage you. There are long stretches where not very much happens at all while characters talk – what do they talk about? Again, fucked if I know. Half of the dialogue is incomprehensible because it makes no sense (chalk this down to me not being highbrow enough for it) and the other half is incomprehensible because you can barely hear it (chalk this down to a shockingly bad sound mix). It just goes on and on until it ends.
I know the plot involves multiple timelines, and so it should be fun trying to tease out what’s happening at any given moment in the grand scheme of things, like untying a particularly tangled knot by teasing out the ends and following the thread. It should be a mystery you want to solve. But the problem is that the film doesn’t give you anything to care about. To me, the characters were indistinguishable and interchangeable. They were just sort of there. it really makes it difficult to care about what happens to them.
Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m just not the target audience for this film. As it is, I only know one person who loves it (sorry, Mick) and I still just can’t see why. Watching the film was like watching paint dry, except the paint already dried hours ago and you couldn’t tell because it was just so dull and bland.