Self-canonizing auteur Mike Figgis' latest offering is a grand experiment in narrative filmmaking composed of arrogant intellectualism and haphazard plotlines.
Shot on digital video and in only one take, "Time Code" consists of four interlocking stories simultaneously projected onto each corner of the screen. And as for the story, let's just call it "The Film Producer, His Wife, the Aspiring Actress and Her Jealous Lesbian Lover." In all fairness, however, this film is not really about a story but rather the process of telling a story. Still, sustaining interest for 1 hour and 33 minutes in a story that is not only purposeless but also slow is a challenge. To boot, the simultaneous projection that was, among other things, meant to empower viewers with narrative choices backfires into a frustrating and confusing viewing experience.
The acting is largely impromptu, each actor having only a loose plot structure to work with. But the virtual absence of direction and the constant improvisation only render the acting more poignant. All things considered, the film does have the virtue of a consistently fine cast. Besides key performances by Stellan Skarsgard, Salma Hayek, Saffron Burrows and Jeanne Tripplehorn, on-the-mark turns come from sideliners such as Holly Hunter, Julian Sands and Kyle MacLachlan.
We understand what Figgis is trying to do: revolutionize filmmaking and film watching. Unfortunately the synchronicity, the improvisation, the self-effacement of the director, the experiment in perspectives and sound, the real-time no-edits thing, etc., just don't work. We're not faulting Figgis for being self-indulgent, just boring.
This movie is more work than pleasure. Skip it unless you're a film theory major at NYU.