VOD film review: The Infinite Man
James R | On 10, Apr 2021
Cast: Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, Alex Dimitriades
Watch The Infinite Man online in the UK: YouTube / Filmzie
“We travelled one year into the past just you can hit Terry with a stick.” That’s Lana (Hannah Marshall) summing up 2014’s The Infinite Man in a witheringly simple sentence. The fact that Dean (Josh McConville) has been working towards this moment for a never-ending amount of time only makes it funnier.
Dean’s plan is seemingly straightforward: recreate the perfect weekend with his almost-ex girlfriend, rekindle their spark and live happily ever after. But from the moment the seaside resort they travel to turns out to have gone bankrupt, it’s clear that things aren’t going to go his way. By the time he’s introduced a time machine (think: shower cap designed by Nintendo) into the equation, what is meant to be a nostalgic journey back to a romantic getaway spirals into an endless loop of events that traps them both.
It’s a novel approach to the time-looping genre, one that brings a bleak tone to offset the quirky silliness. The result is less of a laugh-out-loud delight than fellow chron-rom-com Palm Springs, but it’s also a smaller, more intense and awkward affair, which gives the film a tone that’s all of its own.
A large part of that is down to the cast, with Marshall’s frustrated, clear-eyed partner all too familiar with Dean’s angsty, over-thinking ways. Their chemistry is both convincingly real, as they take us through the looping highs and lows of a relationship, but also taps into toxic themes of control and communication.
“I don’t want you always controlling me,” she insists, as Dean maps out his umpteenth itinerary of how things are meant to play out. Minutes later, we’re watching her trying to act out a conversation that she’s had in the past while Dean secretly whispers what she has to say to maintain the fidelity of the latest go-around. “Listen to your heart,” he pleads. “Also your earpiece.”
Writer-director Hugh Sullivan impeccably maps out the 90-minute whirlwind, throwing multiple incarnations of each character into the fray and repeatedly finding new perspectives from which to replay events. Keeping things set within the same location for budget reasons, the result is a dizzyingly absorbing three-hander – watch out for Terry (Alex Dimitriades), Lana’s old flame, who swaggers into the resort wielding Chekhov’s javelin – that plays things intentionally small. Rather than consider big philosophical and existential questions, this dark farce ponders more intimate puzzles of break-ups, reconciliations and which version of ourselves other people fall in love with. More Primer than Palm Springs, it’s an impressively calculated feature debut that leaves you wondering why Sullivan hasn’t made another feature since.