Frequencies Review

Posted: June 15, 2014 in Reviews, Science Fiction
Tags: , , , ,

web_oxvFor two-thirds of its 105-minute running time, Frequencies hums along, generating a pleasant buzz as a quirky romantic comedy, deserving of its self-comparison to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Inexplicably, the movie then abandons the central conceit of the story in a discordant third act that leaves it as less than the sum of its parts.

It’s a brave new world we find at the beginning of the film, where young schoolchildren don blindfolds to take a test that will determine their future. “Knowledge Determines Destiny” reads the placard on the school’s front door, but, in fact, it is one’s frequency that is the most important factor.

Frequency is not IQ. Young Isaac Newton Midgely is a genius, but he has a negative frequency. He will never fit in. He will be forever unlucky. By way of contrast, his beguiling classmate, Marie Curie Fortune has a frequency over 100. She is something beyond gifted. She will always receive what she wants; she will never even know the minor inconvenience of missing her train. But Marie’s good fortune comes at a price – an almost complete lack of emotion.

Naturally repelling forces, Zak and Marie find themselves attracted to one another nonetheless, but the consequences of their being proximate are so severe that they can only spend one minute in each other’s company each year. The early going of Frequencies is nothing less than charming. The young actors portraying Zak (Charlie Rixon to Dylan Llewellyn to Daniel Fraser) and Marie (Lily Laight to Georgina Minter-Brown to Eleanor Wyld) from children to teenagers to young adults blend seamlessly in appearance and performance. The one-minute dates are convincing portrayals of how chemistry is the most important science in matters of love.

Adulthood brings complications to our circuit-crossed lovers, and the two go their separate ways. When Zak returns, he bears a solution that will allow Marie to experience emotion and for their time together to exceed the sixty-second barrier. If it works, will Marie love Zak? And is love worth becoming suddenly unlucky for the first time in your life?

And then quicker than you can say, “Holy Harmonic Convergence, Batman,” the tried and true theme of Love Conquers All is jettisoned in favor of government intervention and a search for a grand theory of the universe. The government in this case is represented by what appears to be a disgraced professor from a second-rate English boarding school accompanied by two of his more dim-witted former students. Our lovers are chucked into the background of the movie, and the spotlight shifts to two minor characters.

The denouement is meant to sing – almost literally. Instead, the sound that accompanies the climax is a groan (and not the good kind). Serving as the sole writer, director, and editor on a film is a wonderful line on a resume, but it too often closes the door to a needed level of creative collaboration. If someone with influence had gotten to director/writer/editor Darren Paul Fisher and implored him to stick with the love story, Frequencies might have the makings of a sleeper hit. Instead, we are left with a flawed film that shows the promise of those involved in its production. Particularly worthy of praise is cinematographer James Watson, who does fine, subtle work here as hues change within a scene to match the frequency of the character on screen.

Frequencies has the title OXV: The Manual outside of the United States. The change seems to reflect a desire to focus on the love story, and if the edit had been accompanied with a trim of about 20 minutes, we would feel ourselves as lucky as young Marie Curie Fortune.

Two and a half stars.


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