Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel. The film was written, directed, and produced by Shane Carruth, a mathematician and a former engineer, and was completed on a budget of $7,000. Primer is of note for its extremely low budget, experimental plot structure, philosophical implications, and complex technical dialogue, which Carruth chose not to simplify for the sake of his audience. One reviewer said that "anybody who claims [to] fully understand what's going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar." The film collected the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004 before securing a limited release in US cinemas, and has since gained a cult following. The principal characters are Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan), two engineers who accidentally create a device which allows an object or person to travel backward in time. The pair initially test the device by using it to cheat the stock market, but are ultimately unable to resist the temptation of using their machine to meddle with nearly every aspect of their own lives. Through their increasing recklessness, they create
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This was a Sundance film so the look and feel isn't top notch and it is a bit nerdy, but for us nerds, it does a really good job of making you think this would actually work. The end was pretty confusing, reminding me of a lot of French movies but the end really doesn't matter in this case. The meat of the entertainment is in the "what if". Netflix has it rated an 'R', but I do not remember any bad words, and if there was it was in passing. No skin at all, and the violence is more mild than you would see on CSI. I put it down for 10/11 year olds, but it is mostly guys sitting around talking about some highly complex science stuff, so it wouldn't be interesting for those much younger than 16 or 17. Very cerebral.
Watching recommendations: I watched the first 10-15 minutes without looking at the liner notes, and just had to read about what they were trying to make. I wish I would have just watched it, but I thought what they were trying to make was important. Just know that they are trying to make a superconductor or anti-gravity device, and leave it at that. I recommend you do not read any more than that.
--willJanuary 24th, 2013 · Details1 Thank ·
You have to give "Primer" some points for being original if nothing else. After all, the makers of this science-fiction thriller turn several conventions of the genre on their ears.
In particular, they use the overdone time-travel concept to explore ethical issues such as, how important loyalty and friendship really are today. In the process, they also manage to comment on the profit-over-everything corporate strategy that seems to be so prevalent today.
And yet the film is much too smart for its own good. You'd need several viewings just to comprehend most of its more labyrinthine plot points. And even then some of it would probably elude you.
Still, it's refreshing to see something this different. And something this ambitious with its characters, especially best friends Abe (David Sullivan) and Aaron (Shane Carruth, who also wrote and directed).
Along with two other friends, Abe and Aaron have been spending their nights working on an invention. And as ridiculous as it sounds, its purpose even eludes them. However, it eventually becomes clear that it may have some limited time-travel applications.
That leaves them with something of a dilemma. These would-be entrepreneurs are worried about the possible moral ramifications, the undeniable urge to change either the past or future. And it suddenly pits them against each other.
Believe it or not, the entire film was supposedly made for $7,000. And as overused as the clichZ has become, it looks like a million bucks.
True, you can quibble with the performances, since the mostly nonprofessional cast is a bit acting-challenged in particular, Carruth, who is stiff and more than a little self-conscious.
The film does make you think, though, a rarity in cinema these days. And, at less than 80 minutes, it flies by in a hurry.
"Primer" is rated PG-13 for scattered use of profanity (including one usage of the so-called R-rated curse word), brief drug content (use of a sedative) and some off-screen violence. Running time: 78 minutes.
November 8th, 2004 · Details