Monday, July 02, 2012

Episode 1379: A Thousand Kisses Deep

Having just watched A Thousand Kisses Deep at the Arts Centre, I've decided that in future, it should be mandatory for anyone producing a creative work involving time travel to also write an article explaining how time travel in their work doesn't violate the Novikov self-consistency principle (unless it involves multiple timelines/universes, but that makes things more complicated, not less). I know it's a lot to expect time travel to make sense, but when your film doesn't even make a pretence of doing so and time travel is basically the driving force of your narrative, I'd say that's a big problem. I was happy for the mechanics of a time-travelling lift to remain unexplained. (If the lift metaphor worked for Inception, I've no objections to it in A Thousand Kiss Deep either.) I was even willing to accept a building caretaker who seems to know exactly what is going on, but chooses to speak in cryptic sentences that don't seem to really help Jodie Whittaker's Mia. Where my suspension of disbelief broke down was when in the first few jumps back in time, absolutely no one noticed that Mia was, well, Mia. Apart from one mention by Dougray Scott's Ludwig, and that was more like a 'haven't I met you before' moment than a 'why the hell are there two of you' moment. So not even his delightfully louche trumpet player character could obscure the fact that this film's plot made absolutely no logical sense the moment I started thinking about it.

I suspect there may be some version of an ontological paradox going on in the film, specifically to do with the contents of the box that Mia gets after her mother dies. Since it was the box's mysterious reappearance after she'd binned it that kicked off all the time-travelling in the first place, if the end result is Mia killing Ludwig so that he never gets to remain in her mother's life (and eventually, enter her own), how did all that stuff related to him get into the box in the first place? Unless we're supposed to believe that her mother still manages to go on pining for her lost lover, despite the affair having been ended much earlier now? Plausible, but the film never actually explains anything that's necessary for making sense of its story. I suppose the film's bracketing by lines from Leonard Cohen's 'A Thousand Kisses Deep' was supposed to lend it gravitas and distract from the nonsensical nature of its plot. Well, it didn't work. The description of the film on IMDB reads, 'An unsettling drama that cinematically captures and recreates the psycho-analytic experience.' Uh, right. Psychoanalysis, really? I see how the film works within that framework, especially the lift metaphor. Except the storytelling doesn't seem to be about Mia uncovering and coming to terms with her past, but rather actively trying to change it, which she ultimately succeeds in doing, but only when she gets to the right moment in time. So...not exactly the same message as psychoanalysis anymore, is it? In a nutshell, if you want a love story with time travel that makes slightly more sense and is way more emotionally satisfying, stick with The Time Traveler's Wife.

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