Featuring: Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, Alex Dimitriades
Screenwriter/Director: Hugh Sullivan
Movie website: hedone.com.au/projects/the-infinite-man/
Australian release date: Thursday 18 September
Verdict: Peel-back-the-endless-onion scifi rom-com that becomes tedious, then infuriating.
The Infinite Man unashamedly celebrates its low-budgetness: there are only three characters and the sets are confined to an abandoned derelict motel in the middle of a dusty Aussie nowhere and, occasionally, a beach somewhere within drivable distance. The drab setting contributes an intriguing atmosphere of weirdness initially, but ultimately little else. Unfortunately, the characters are pretty drab as well (although lifted by competent performances) – which leaves the narrative to do the heavy lifting.
As a story, it’s a hybrid creature, part sci-fi, part rom-com, stranded in a no-mans land twixt spoof and ostentatiously ingenious time-travel cleverbuggery. Fastidiously controlling perfectionist Dean (Josh McConville) is disappointed that his planned anniversary celebration with his girlfriend (Hannah Marshall) is ruined when her obsessive stalker ex-boyfriend (Alex Demiatriades) rolls up. He invents a time-travel device so he can change the way things worked out, confronting multiple versions of himself and the other two characters as he juggles altered versions of events in different time frames in quest of creating the perfect anniversary.
Poor old mess-up Dean ends up trapping his girlfriend – and the hapless viewer – in a time loop, then has to figure out how to get her out…which means he has to get in. Except whenever he seems to have sorted out the time tangle, it turns out he hasn’t, and just when you think he’s out of the loop and the story is close to resolution, it turns out it isn’t. How many rides on the merry-go-round, how many broken promises of an ending can one story stand before it becomes unbearably tedious and frustrating? A lot less than are delivered here, unfortunately. The Groundhog Day stuff is flogged to death by about the half-way point, and it’s a long, monotonous ride to the finish line from there.
Low-budget flicks like this succeed or fail on imaginative input, resourcefulness and ideas rather than expensive SFX and box-office-drawing stars. The triumphs are worth the wait, but when the material falls short, as in this case, well… This sector of the industry is vitally important as a nurturing ground for new talent and fresh modes of expression unfettered by formulaic market-driven agendas. Arthouse/indie has long been my preferred territory as a film enthusiast. So I really wanted to like The Infinite Man, to support it, to pass on glad tidings as a reviewer. Can’t do. This could have worked brilliantly as a long short, but just doesn’t make the stretch to feature length.
I confess, I woulda walked out, but the end seemed imminent a good hour before the credits finally rolled, and I was hangin’ in hoping for a miracle rescue. Alas, in vain. It was a bloody long hour. I don’t think I’ve seen a more infuriating flick.
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