Movie Review: 'Making Time' is an Indie Time Travel Gem
Making Time is charming, funny, smart and a good time.
Under normal circumstances I try to avoid it when a filmmaker asks me to watch their movie. Generally speaking, this is a potential disaster. What if I hate the movie? What if the movie is complete garbage? How am I supposed to write an honest, objective, critical essay about something directly to someone? Now, I have written, and will again in the future, write negative reviews, it’s part of the job of a critic, sometimes a work isn’t any good and I am paid to express that to the world.
It’s different when you know that a negative review is going to be read by those who are directly responsible for it. Vin Diesel doesn’t care if I liked Bloodshot or not, he’s probably not aware that I have seen it and I am not a jerk who seeks out the star or makers of the movie to tell them I hate their movie. As I see it, I write the negative review into the void and allow it to find those who will read it. Being approached by a filmmaker to watch their movie and write about it removes a barrier of objectivity that is a core component of what I do.
So, why then did I break that rule for the movie, Making Time? Why, when the @MakingTimeMovie twitter account @’d me on Twitter to write about their movie did I decide to do it? Honestly, I have no idea. I became possessed by the notion and followed it through for reasons that perhaps confirm the nature of a universe where my actions are guided by forces beyond me. And, probably because if I didn’t like the movie I could just ignore the tweet and not write about the movie.
Well, there is no need to ignore the Tweet because Making Time is a really good movie. It’s a wonderful story about how obsession with one singular notion at the expense of all other things, all other aspects of existence, can cause you to lose everything. It’s also about how time is fixed but not how we react to that time. It’s about how our perception of the past doesn’t have to define the future.
Nick (Mason Heidger) is a physicist on the cusp of a breakthrough in time travel. His machine is ready to make a maiden voyage that will allow him to travel back in time and observe the past. He’s spent the past seven years of his life building to this moment and this breakthrough all while his marriage to Jess (Tori Titmas) suffered. On this date, when Nick is finally about to travel in time, Jess has dropped off their divorce papers.
What happens next is a wonderfully clever series of ideas and smart filmmaking choices. Making Time was written and directed by Grant Pichla and his approach to time travel is a lot of fun. Pichla sets up a series of rules of and several intentional vagaries that give the movie strong bones and enough grey area to play around in the margins. I don’t want to give too much away so I will only say that the restrictions he places on the use of time travel and what it is capable of are exceptionally well chosen.
Equally well chosen are the cast of Making Time. Mason Heidger’s Nick is a terrific character. Heidger captures Nick’s flaws and charm with equal aplomb. Aside from a voiceover that is perhaps a little unnecessary, or maybe just a critical pet peeve, Nick is a character I really enjoyed, bought into and rooted for, especially as the movie approached a climax demonstrates how to use a device like time travel to reveal what we are really looking for in a movie, people we care about and relate to.
Tori Titmas plays Jess and I really enjoyed her energy in the role. There is great care taken with her, especially in the past, to delicately and cleverly underline the things she doesn't know about Nick and the fact of his time travel. I love the casually careless way Nick and Jess talk to each other. It's the kind of lived in dynamic of a marriage that has fallen apart between two people who still care for each other. It's not Cassavetes level of insight but there is just enough that when you combine it with the time travel conceit, you get a really full picture of a relationship you will come to care about.
Making Time is a time travel movie but it’s not about time travel. It’s about using the devices of cinema and storytelling to reveal the humanity underneath. Time travel is special, of course, it’s a terrific intellectual exercise and can be fun just to think about and play with in your mind. But, a really good storyteller knows that time travel or any other similar device, are merely the tools you use to reveal something more profound about people.
In the case of the character of Nick, time travel reveals his flaws, his failures and his successes. Making Time does a wonderful job of using time travel as a way for Nick to truly see himself for the first time and understand his mistakes and see what was always really important to him. I love that about this movie. I love that Grant Pichla gets that and it makes Making Time such a pleasure to watch. Yes, the film lacks polish but that's budget stuff. This movie was made in two days in one location on a shoestring, adjust your expectations accordingly and you will enjoy Making Time as much as I did. The ideas and the characters make up for the polish.
My kingdom for characters who grow and learn and strive and get better and fail along the way. That’s Making Time. That’s Nick. That’s a really good movie. You might be thinking. don’t all movies have these aspects? And the answer is no, frankly. Perhaps every movie starts that way but they don’t all achieve it. Making Time achieves it and I am thankful. Does this mean all filmmakers should approach critics on Twitter?
No, please don’t do that.