Time Travel Thursdays: Curvature (2017)
Time Travel Tropes4
Matthew Turner | On 27, Aug 2020
Director: Diego Hallivis
Cast: Lyndsy Fonseca, Zach Avery, Glenn Morshower, Alex Lanipekun, Noah Bean, Linda Hamilton
Watch Curvature online in the UK: Amazon Prime
Has Tenet whetted your appetite for more time travel titilation? Transport yourself no further than Time Travel Thursdays, our column devoted to time travel movies. It’s on Thursdays.
Directed by Diego Hallivis, this low-budget time travel thriller stars Lyndsy Fonseca as Helen, a grieving scientist whose inventor husband Wells (Noah Bean) has recently committed suicide. After a meeting with Wells’ former partner Tomas (Glenn Morshower), Helen wakes up to discover that she has no memory of the previous week.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Helen receives a mysterious phone call from her future self, warning her that the man who’s about to knock on her door means her harm. After a frantic escape, Helen joins forces with work colleague Alex (Zach Avery) and they try to solve the mystery of her missing week, while staying one step ahead of their would-be assailant (Alex Lanipekun).
Unfortunately, despite its extremely promising opening, Curvature completely fails to capitalise on its own premise. In a movie where the main character has a second self running about, the very least you’d expect would be a scene where they meet, Helen to Helen, but that sadly never comes to pass.
Worse, the film breaks one of the cardinal rules of time travel movies, in that it fails to close the loop by having one Helen catch up to the other and deliver the warning phone call from the other end. That’s indicative of a general lack of imagination in Brian DeLeeuw’s script, which is much more concerned with making points about ethics in science than it is with delivering actual thrills.
The film is desperately slow, despite the fact that the lead characters are constantly on the run. To add insult to injury, Helen and Alex keep getting told what Other Helen is up to (because they constantly miss her by a few minutes) and that sounds much more exciting, leaving you wondering whether the script may be following the wrong Helen.
It doesn’t help that the performances are something of a mixed bag. Fonseca has done good work elsewhere (Agent Carter, Desperate Housewives), but she struggles to make Helen compelling, while Avery is weirdly shifty as Alex, considering he’s meant to be the good guy. The only enjoyable turn comes from 24 veteran Glenn Morshower, who delivers a committed performance that’s probably better than the film deserves.
As for prominently billed Linda Hamilton (playing a sympathetic scientist), she’s so poorly underused that it’s practically criminal. If you’re going to have Linda Hamilton in your time travel movie, at least give her something interesting to do.
Ultimately, Curvature proves a frustrating experience, mostly because it’s so easy to see the fun film it could have been. On the plus side, at least it provides a useful note for the future: if you see a time travel movie described as “metaphysical”, what that actually means is “slow and boring”.
Curvature (2018) is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.