Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Andrew Niccol: Of Time and the City (In Time)

Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, In Time, 20th Century Fox, 2011.

The Science-fiction film genre has taken a nosedive, of late, along with almost all other Hollywood genres. The status quo is barely hanging on, and the seams of the style are barely in place, thanks to films such as Danny Boyle's Sunshine and Duncan Jones' Moon. Writer-Director Andrew Niccol has always held a unique monopoly on Science-fiction American films. His philosophical leanings and hyper-stylized visuals led to Gattaca and Simone, two fantastically original sci-fiers (or in the case of the under-appreciated Simone, pseudo-sci-fier.).

Much of the same can be witnessed in his adventurous, fascinating new film, In Time. As with his iridescent Gattaca, Niccol sets his political parable in an Orwellian super-city structure, stratified by an obsession with time. The idea is ingenious, and for the most part, its originator holds his own, crafting an intoxicating, hyper stylized futureworld, shot through with a neo-noir retro vibe recalling Rudolph's Trouble in Mind. This is fitting, as In Time contains elements of both the Western and the Film Noir. Roger Deakins' camera is a miracle, mining the lights of another time, unifying the visual elements with the symbolic storyline. 

The cast is stellar, with Justin Timberlake carrying his first picture, proving once and for all that he is a gifted actor. Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser, Johnny Galecki, Olivia Wilde and Alex Pettyfer are all in top form. Although Niccol loses focus in the Bonnie and Clyde stretches, his runaway love story works. Craig Armstrong's music score soars over the well executed chase scenes.

Niccol has always displayed an endearing potential for mastering his own corner of the Sci-fi genre. His fixation on the constructs of our world were demonstrated brilliantly in his screenplay for Peter Weir's The Truman Show. With his most recent film, he displays yet again his staggering singularity as an architect of cinematic cities and time.

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