Timecrimes, a clever piece of storytelling from Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, is all about Héctor (Karra Elejalde), a middle-aged man just moved with his wife, Clara (Candela Fernández) into a new countryside home. When the film opens, Héctor is already exhausted, but by the time it’s over he’ll be utterly drained, having lived through an extended ordeal with the sustained intention of trying to put his increasingly fractured life back together.
Premonition belongs to that reliable supernatural Hollywood subgenre: narcissistic wish-fulfillment. This film’s premise is that one family tragedy — the highway death of a husband and father of two — is of such cosmic import that the fabric of space and time will fold in itself so that the grieving widow (actually, she doesn’t do much grieving at all) may have a more psychologically complete experience. Premonition is a misleading title, because what’s happening (as far as I can tell) is more of a cross between Groundhog Day and Slaughterhouse Five. For reasons that go mostly unexplained, Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) lives the days of the week surrounding her husband’s untimely death out of chronological order — she learns that he’s been killed, but in her suddenly unordered life, the date of his actual death hasn’t yet arrived. That gives her a few days of moving forward and backward in time, trying to figure out how she might save his life. The screenplay suffers from all the logical problems that bedevil time-travel movies, which are compounded by the dopey conventions of supernatural movies — this one has a freak electrical storm, a dead crow, an accident involving plate glass, and one of those cynical you-can’t-cheat-death flourishes that’s in fashion these days.
I’d feel a little more confident describing Primer as easily the best science fiction film in god knows how long if only I was sure I fully understood thing fucking one about what goes on in its last 45 minutes. But whether it’s completely coherent in a narrative sense, I’m sure that it is a terrific little film about afterhours industry, tenderfoot genius and, of course, the evil in men’s souls.