Film Review: James vs. His Future Self

SNACK at The Glasgow Film Festival 2020

James vs. His Future Self

Shane Carruth’s 2004 film Primer is at one end of the spectrum of mind-bending, head-scratching films that deal with the subject of time travel. And thus director Jeremy LaLonde’s sweet-natured charmer is at the other in packaging intricate scientific ideas into an easily accessible jolt of soft sci-fi.

James (played by the film’s co-writer Jonas Chernick) is an uptight young scientist, obsessed with making time travel a reality at the expense of appreciating the people in his life, not least long-time friend and fellow scientist Courtney (Cleopatra Coleman). One day he encounters a world-weary and abrasive man (Daniel Stern) who reveals that he is actually James from the future, here to tell his younger self not to make the same mistakes he has. It’s a head trip of an idea but avoids the tricky pitfalls of over-complicating things with the intricacies of time travel itself. It gives us just enough to keep things conceptually intriguing, taking some genuinely surprising turns as it deals with the ramifications of a present and future self co-existing. But it never ties itself up in knots, instead by focusing on the human element, it becomes an affable, surprisingly-tender dramedy that uses sci-fi as a boost rather than the endgame.


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