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SXSW 2014: ‘The Infinite Man’ cleverly navigates time-travel, tropes, and metaphors

SXSW 2014: ‘The Infinite Man’ cleverly navigates time-travel, tropes, and metaphors

The Infinite Man
Written by Hugh Sullivan
Directed by Hugh Sullivan
Australia, 2014

Relationships and time travel are often tied together and with good reason. Relationships are a natural source of conflict, and time travel lends itself well metaphorically to the lengths people will go for one another. The Infinite Man irreverently dissects relationships and genuinely explores how they can disintegrate via insecurities, jealousy, and a continual focus on the past.

The film follows Dean (Josh McConville) and Lana (Hannah Marshall) as they return to the same hotel as last year to celebrate the same anniversary weekend as last year. Dean is a genius complete with obsessive compulsive neuroticism and lack of spontaneity. To him, everything can be processed and broken down into chemical processes and organized lists. He represents the kind of routine and rut every person finds him or herself in during a relationship.

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When Terry (Alex Dimitriades), Lana’s ex, shows up and results in her leaving with Dean, Dean is intent on fixing what went wrong (not in their relationship but with that specific weekend). Re-purposing a device he first developed to capture the chemical processes of a feeling for time travel, Dean cannot wrap his head around the fact that he is concentrating too much on the past and not with the present, resulting in various paradoxes, loops, and mind bending hijinks.

The initial source of conflict is contrived and thin enough to poke a few holes in but what saves The Infinite Man from being yet another trope filled film is the way in which it handles the time travel. The situation opens up plenty of comedic opportunities, but the characters are humorous in and of themselves. Dean and his relationship with Lana is earnest and honest, making the ending well deserved.

The film grounds ideas about insecurities, love, and happiness while also juggling multiple timelines. It explores all too familiar topics. Even more profound is when Lana declares that this whole situation is really an exercise in “one big revision” as opposed to any actual growth. It’s ideas like these, explored through irreverent humor and loopy time travel, that makes The Infinite Man a great trip.

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