TIMER (2009) Dir. Jac Schaeffer

Jac Schaeffer brings us his only feature film Timer: an excellently written comedy about love and relationships with a science fiction twist.

Timer is a small device implanted into your wrist, counting down to the exact moment when you meet your “one,” that is, your true love. It shows the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds till the meeting. In some cases, true love is just around the corner, for example, if you’ve got 5 hours on your timer. At other times, you may have to wait till your 40-something. In other words, it’s a risk to implant it cause the truth may be far from what you expect, but most people are too curious to give up. Anyways, timer’s been there for quite some time on the market, and it has been, as the inventors assure us, scientifically proven it works 100%. Anyone can get a timer, no matter sex or age. And a lot of people do. Who could resist knowing when they’re gonna meet the second half?

Oona (Emma Caulfield) certainly couldn’t. She got her timer many years ago, but it’s been blank all this time. What it means is that her soul mate hasn’t got his (or her — that’s a possibility, as they say at the timer-implanting center) timer yet. For this reason, she dates only timer-less guys since one of them has to be her potential soul mate. Her life seems in order. She likes to have things under control. The only thing she doesn’t have is true love. Until one day she meets Mikey (John Patrick Amedori), a guy that could pass for a contradiction of all her previous boyfriends. He’s a drummer in a band, not as well educated, and much younger than she is. We see how an invisible force is drawing them together. The chemistry and magnetism between them strikes us as much as them (remember what they say about opposing poles?). Everything starts falling apart when Oona finds out a few things about Mikey. On top of that, her own timer begins to count down.

I don’t wanna spoil the story for you since it’s so great. Jac Schaeffer wrote an exceptionally funny, smart, and sexy comedy. The story convinces us almost as being true. We believe the timer is a real thing. It feels natural. Then again, Schaeffer raises some serious questions in his movie. What is true love? How can we know for sure? At some point, it appears the timer is more of a nuisance than help. It stirs things up and makes people miserable. It’s really the easy way out. Instead of dating different people, figuring out whether we want to spend our lifetime with this particular person, or simply trying to guess what the other guy, or girl feels for us, the timer gives us a ready answer. Once you know, you know. It affects your decisions. The same happens to Oona and the other characters. Oona rejects her boyfriends one by one when it turns out their timers show a different countdown. It frustrates her, and makes her tired.

Apart from Oona, heart problems touch all the other characters. Oona’s sister Steph (Michelle Borth) is a regular one-night stander. She figures she’s not gonna wait till she’s old (meeting a guy after 40 scares her). She plays around, enjoying life. However, deep down she’s not happy, at all. As you rightly expect, it changes once she meet a guy, Dan (Desmond Harrington), or Dan the Man, as she keeps calling him. There’s also a separate story with Oona’s younger brother, who finds his true love pretty quickly, but seems as uncomfortable about it as it gets. All those little stories appear perfectly normal: some couples get divorce, others get together. However, they are all influenced by the timer, one way or the other. It becomes virtually a paradox: a technological gadget controlling people’s feelings.

When it comes to classifying this movie in terms of genre, we can name at least a few of them. It combines elements of comedy, romance, family melodrama, and sci-fi, of course. And it works with all these elements mixed together. It mostly feels light-hearted and entertaining, but deeper reflections about love don’t slip our attention — they become an integral part of the story. We might say this movie is like life: bitter-sweet. Plus, Jac Schaeffer adds another theme, which is waiting (both literal and figurative). He asks his characters (and us) how long we are willing to wait for true love. Interestingly, nobody can define true love. Everybody wants to feel it, but they don’t know what it tastes like until they do.

I already feel I could watch it all over again. I enjoyed the witty story, warm and funny characters, snappy dialogues, and the moments when sadness and happiness intertwined beautifully. Forget superficial rom-cons we’re so used to, and spend some time in a crazy world where a simple alarm sound means you’re in love!

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

One thought on “…voltage

  1. Mr_Right says:

    You nailed this one, QOTG — what an unexpectedly unassuming little masterpiece of a smart indie romcom.

    My expectations were low from the box description, but damned if this didn’t turn out to be a remarkably seamless blend of ditzy chickflick and philosophical sci-fi, like a Phillip K. Dick tale written after he somehow watched an episode of Sex & the City without puking his guts out.

    (I’m speculating in very broad strokes here, of course, as I’ve yet to make it through an episode myself without that specific reaction.)

    Seriously, friends, this is one of the great geek date movies of all time. All it begs of the viewer is one easy leap of logic — not even that we accept the premise that every person has a soulmate, just that we concede Americans could be snowed into believing in a pseudoscientific gadget that pinpoints such relationships.

    And after that, it’s equal parts sexy (and genuinely funny) comedy and/or brainy existential meditation on the nature of love — and you get to choose which movie you watch.

    I dug it, and more tellingly, every chick I know who’s seen it has adored it. An overlooked little gem, highly recommended.

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