Seems like a simple question. It has only one answer, depending on the time zone. But according to the movies, time is not absolute.
In Joachim Trier’s Reprise, Norway’s entry to the international competition and Golden Tulip winner, time has tides. It is not continuous and linear. It goes back and forth, it has ups and downs. So does love, friendship, creativity and human ego. While we follow the story of two young aspiring writers and friends, Erik (Espen Klouman-Høiner) and Philip (Anders Danielsen Lie), the narrative takes us from the present, where everything seems ambiguous, and leads to the past where the missing pieces are found. We even visit some possible futures. During this travel Erik and Philip’s careers flourish and fade, their loves begin and end, and their self-confidence rise and fall. As the time goes back and forth, life goes up and down.
In Sean Ellis’ Cashback, on the other hand, time is something that the protagonist (Ben Willis) can and can’t control, depending on the state of mind he is in. When his girlfriend makes the “get out of my life” speech, time slows down. When the relationship is over, Ben cannot sleep and time is even more stretched. A night, even a second seems like an eternity. But then, Ben realizes he can freeze time, so each second is an eternity. Time has not a value per se, it is the people who attribute some powers or traits to it. When you work on a night shift, “time is your enemy”. But when you stop time and wander through it, time becomes your foremost ally.
Speaking about the stretching of time, it is appropriate to remind the jumpers of The Bridge that “those 4 seconds are like an eternity”, as they say. “The bridge” in Eric Steel’s film is San Francisco’s Golden Gate, a popular location for suicide attempts. It is almost as if the Golden Gate has its own community, gathered around the suicides. The jumpers are the leading actors and actresses of the event; the audience is those who pass by the bridge and who unwillingly witness the attempts as well as the families and friends of the jumpers.
Where there is death, the past is remembered, revisited and sometimes reconstructed. When and where did it go wrong? Whose is the fault? Is there any fault? In The Bridge time can be a punisher and a healer.
Just like The Bridge, documentaries often study the past and its reflections on the present. In Shut Up and Sing, the famous country music girl-band Dixie Chicks is first America’s sweetheart, singing the national anthem at the Superbowl. But 12 words later (“We are ashamed that the president of United States is from Texas”) they are “traitors” and “Saddam’s angels”. The movie juxtaposes 2003 and 2006, shows the change the band and its members went through. The good part is, this is not a “rise and fall” story. This is the story of struggle and solidarity.
Where Shut Up and Sing moves within a 3-year span, The Fountain is on a continuum of 1000 years (at least, that’s what the trailer says). If most directors have “the big movie” in mind, this is definitely Darren Aronofsky’s. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are a knight and princess in the medieval era, husband and wife in the present tense, and who knows what in a distant future. Parallel universes? Hallucinations? Never-ending story? It’s up to you to decide. But just to tell a “Loss of a Loved One: The Responsibilities and The Consequences” story, it’s really too much effort.