Single people in search of a mate: Wouldn't it be great if there was some guaranteed, scientific way of finding your "one," so you could take the angst and guesswork out of waiting for true love to come along (or not)? Or would that be awful, actually, since such a method would pretty much knock the notion of free will out of your romantic equation, and make you a love-puppet of fate?
Writer-director Jac Schaeffer's intriguing little indie pic Timer (trailer viewable here) takes this query and runs with it, and for a good portion of its running time manages to do what so few contemporary rom-coms achieve: it provokes thought.
That the movie doesn't entirely deliver the goods in the end is a drawback, but I applaud the effort. Given the genre's stultifying reign of zom-coms (i.e. cookie-cutter, zombie-like rom-coms that mindlessly plod through their predictable paces), any romantic comedy that's sincerely invested in doing something a little different deserves its props.
In Schaeffer's alternate universe, for $79.99 and a small monthly fee, you can have a device implanted on your wrist that begins counting down to the moment when you're fated to meet your true love; an alarm goes off on your due date, and will also chime when you encounter him or her -- the one catch being that said soul-mate will have to have been fitted with a "TiMER" as well. Otherwise...
It's in that realm of "otherwise" that Timer finds its plot twists and its philosophical conundrums. Heroine Oona (played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Emma Caulfield), approaching 30 and still un-matched, gamely marches her suitors to the nearest TiMER clinic -- which in a droll satire of Apple stores and their ilk is too-slickly customer-friendly -- to have these potential mates implanted and thus cut to, or rather, cut out the chase.
But wearing the TiMER device (a neat metaphor for Those Interested in Commitment) isn't actually a stress-ender: What do you do when you fall for someone whose wrist is TiMER-free? Or someone whose device's countdown indicates you're not their ultimate match? And -- as is the case with Oona's half-sister Steph (Michelle Borth) -- What are you supposed to do with yourself when your own TiMER tells you that you're not due to meet your mate for another 15 years?
I'm on the fence re: Timer, which is a bit too bland and sit-commy for its provocative premise, and can't quite come up with the big laughs it ought to provide, along with a satisfying resolution. But the high concept core of the thing is admirable, and it features an older woman/younger man romance that's got unusually convincing chemistry.
I'm a fan of hybrids. While the basically realistic Timer isn't a full-blown sci-fi/rom-com like Sleeper, it's a worthy entry on a fertile playing field. I'm always championing rom-com spec scripts that think outside the genre's too-tight box, and this female-helmed film proves my point: the movie got made. So catch it while you can (Timer's currently playing in limited release) if you're interested in more-than-just-a-chick-flick fare that's not afraid to take a few risks.