‘Synchronic’ is one of a movie’s fascinating drug journeys

Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are obsessed with time. In each of the writing / directing duo’s feature films – 2012 Resolution, 2015 Springand 2018 Infinity—The ability to travel back or forward in history, or to exist eternally, provides insight into the nature of oneself and the thorny emotional and psychological dynamics that govern our lives. Cleverly idiosyncratic, they are genre filmmakers who use their sci-fi temporal vanities for incisive and moving explorations of the human condition.

This remains true with Synchronous (in theaters and drive-ins on October 23), Moorhead and Benson’s most hyped and accessible release yet. Having done wonders with relatively low budgets and largely unknown castings –Infinity, for example, featured the directors themselves as siblings – the latest partners upped the brand name quotient via headliners Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan, playing here as New York paramedics. -Orléans grappling with both familiar and turning dilemmas. It doesn’t matter that their main cast are well-known Hollywood players, however, Moorhead and Benson haven’t lost their touch to imbue outward fantasy with melodramatic emotion, the result being a confident, insane, and surprisingly touching saga of heartbreak. , loss, desire. , the dangerous appeal of escape and the interdependence of everything.

According to the couple’s tradition, Synchronous ultimately rests on an eternal time loop. Rather than getting bogged down in paradoxes, however, he focuses strictly on the predicament here and now of paramedics Steve (Mackie) and Dennis (Dornan), the former single man with a penchant for getting drunk and jumping. in bed with women, and the latter is the husband of Tara (Katie Aselton) and father of a newborn baby and Brianna (Ally Ioannides), 18. Best friends since high school, Steve and Dennis are stuck in a rut, unhappy with their respective stations in life, and unsure how to significantly improve their situation. These are middle-aged guys who don’t understand what they have (and what they need), and their personal struggles are soon complicated by a series of working visits where Steve first finds an old French piece. and, shortly thereafter, a packet labeled “Synchronous.”

When Synchronic is subsequently spotted on a second call – where a woman suffered a bizarre snake bite in her hotel room, and her boyfriend fell to death in an elevator shaft – Steve’s suspicions are raised. Synchronous begins with this traumatized couple’s wild hallucinatory journey on the narcotic, albeit the foreground of their clasped hands, then parting, that really speaks to the film’s underlying thematic concerns. The process of holding on tight and letting go, not to mention how we’re all intertwined, is central to the story of Moorhead and Benson, who soon also charges Steve with a bombshell: he has a fatal brain tumor. .

Ultimately, this is a case of good news / bad news, given that Steve’s affliction affects his pineal gland in a way that makes him ideally vulnerable to the effects of timing. Of course, Steve doesn’t have the immediate desire to ingest a potentially lethal synthetic pill. Yet, thanks to an awkward encounter with its creator, he discovers his true magic: he transports users to a random moment in the past. When Brianna picks up the sync on a friend’s balcony and quickly disappears without a trace, Steve – thinking that since he’s dying he has nothing left to lose – begins to experiment with the substance, thus priming trips back to the Ice Age, a conquistador-populated bayou and other remote periods of the Gulf Coast.

From aerial shots of crisscrossing night streets, to views of truss bridges and a mesh mask and a red X-light on Steve’s face during his MRI scans, Synchronous is inundated with nested and diagonal images. Captivating snapshots of the Milky Way amplify the overall impression of a universe whose countless separate entities are linked together in a way that is both invisible and undeniable. A boulder inscribed with the misspelled word “Allways” suggests two distinct notions about infinity, though it also plays a functional narrative role in Steve and Dennis’ odyssey, which picks up after Steve begins to bring up Synchronic for his free time, recording his experiences with a video camera, and understanding the weird rules that govern his unique journeys.

Captivating snapshots of the Milky Way amplify the overall impression of a universe whose countless separate entities are linked together in a way that is both invisible and undeniable.

Synchronous develops the individual problems and interpersonal relationships of its characters with care and compassion, while mixing scenes with clues to its mysteries. It’s a delicate balance that gives the procedure a knitted cohesion, such as Steve’s fear of death and Dennis’ lament about his unhappy marriage (rooted in the notion that once you meet love in your life, this will never happen again.) are both associated with the larger quest to use Sync to time travel to find Brianna. At every turn, Moorhead and Benson imbue their material with pressing notions of mortality, dreams, uneasiness about the future, and longing for the past, whether through the recurring alarm on Steve’s wristwatch or the circular camera of the directors, which rotates on its axis. , glides through spaces and moves between characters – conveying a powerful sense of space between them – with exhilarating fluidity.

Augmented by an audioscape of disharmonious electronic noise, SynchronousThe low-key virtuosity of the company is married to the low-key performances of Mackie and Dornan who locate a true strain of midlife discomfort, where the grass looks perpetually greener on the other side, and the daily chore becomes every hour of tedious waking. . Blind to what’s important, Dennis and Steve are lost souls navigating a slightly unreal cityscape, and the easy-going, empathetic relationship the actors have underpin the whimsical action. Using clever shortcuts and crossovers between different timeframes in a given sequence, Moorhead and Benson formally express not only Dennis and Steve’s wayward states of mind, but how what happened before and what didn’t. still product is fundamentally related. to what’s going on right now.

“The present is a miracle,” Steve thinks to himself at the end of the film, articulating the daily carpe-diem spirit that guides Synchronous. Ending not with a bang, but with a touching act of sacrifice and a handshake, it’s a touching portrayal of embracing what’s good and important while you can. It’s also a reconfirmation that Moorhead and Benson are genre writers with few equals.

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