- Mike Figgis
- Reviewed by
- a.k.a. Jacinda
- Review date
- Friday, April 13, 2001
There is the aspiring actress Rose (Salma Hayek) that cheats on her Lesbian lover Lauren (Jeanne Tripplehorne), as well as the girlfriend (Saffron Burrows) of movie producer Alex (Stellan Skarsgard) struggling to break up with him. The viewer gets to follow all four characters simultaneously as their fates collide.
It may sound complicated but Mike Figgis manages to draw your attention to the most important quarter easily. His audio mix allows you to hear the sound best in this specific quarter. At times you can listen to two quarters at the same time and still understand what is going on. Mr. Figgis is not only a director and screenwriter but also a musician. The score consists of jazz (Figgis plays the trumpet) and popular music creating a perfect mood. The movie almost resembles a symphony considering the fact that Figgis had the action written down on paper you use to write down notes. There was no script and the actors only knew they had to do a specific action at a specific time – everything else is improvised.
For this reason Time Code is close to the idea of pure cinema in which emotions play the most important role. The four main actors give outstanding performances – I especially liked Jeanne Tripplehorne. It was a rare experience to see Rose cheating on her while she listens to it. You can tell her reaction immediately while you almost feel like an omniscient voyeur. I also loved the scene in which Lauren runs accidentally into Alex.
The impressive achievement of the actors gets most obvious when you compare version 15, the one that made it to cinemas, and version 1. Both are included on the DVD edition. It’s hard to follow the action in the first version while the final version is almost perfect in its timing and story-telling. You may think that you have to follow all four screens at the same time to keep up with the story but it is not necessary. You can skip between the quarters and still understand the action.
I see the main flaw of Time Code in the very simple story. However I don’t blame the filmmaker as it would have been impossible to tell a more complicated story in the same way. While the movie is often described as black comedy about Hollywood I rather see it as a movie about emotions. In this way it is a perfect blend of four people’s relationships. The greatest achievement might as well be that the viewer is able to edit the film on his own by choosing where to watch and where to listen to. Time Code is a daring cinematic experience – at times difficult, but engaging and thrilling!
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