04 December 2011

When your "Timer" runs out:

Oona's world is stark. She lives in an imaginary future world, not so far in the distance, where lives are lived much the same way of ours but somehow even in her imaginary world of love and technology Oona stands out above the rest of the characters due to the mis-en-scene employed to emphasize her character. Just as Oona isn't able to escape the timer on her wrist which isn't counting down the days until she meets her soul mate, like everyone else's; Oona also can't escape the brightness and light contrast that seems to go hand in hand with her character.

Oona is a product of her environment. A lonely 29 year old average women, in most regards, who carries on her wrist a timer that starts when your soul mate also gets a timer. Everyone in her world has a timer that counts down to the day when you'll first catch eyes and from there your life long relationship begins. Oona's whole life revolves around her timer and its almost lack of functionality. Oona simply wants what everyone else has, a set time, even if that means momentarily putting aside happiness while waiting for her big moment.

The world in which Ooona inhabits is set up in a fake future environment where we as the audience let ourselves believe that there can be a device that could basically predict your future. This is due to the scenic realism tricks that are employed to let us believe that this is an oh-so-true possibility in the close future. Scenic realism uses mis-en-scene to make us recognize the sets and props employed in the movie as features of what should belong to that world. This is done in this movie taking so many familiar aspects of our modern lives and twisting them just enough that we feel comfortable enough to not just accept the technology in this movie, but to also question it's validity in our own lives. The cast are downed in jeans and tops, they work as orthodontists or secretaries and have drinks at the bar at night. Oona is set aside in her culture because of her timer hasn't stared ticking yet and set apart in our eyes as everywhere she goes she shines like an inward angel. Highlighting is the main trick of this movie's producers who make it a point to set aside Oona as something different and special even in this world which itself is a special world.

Earlier I mentioned that this movie throws some moral questions at the audience. This movie at no time is controversial or rock shaking but does let us wander into the depths of our own love lives and decide how strongly we believe in pre-destination. If you chose to accept the invitation that this movie shakily hands out you can easily spend hours discussing the pros and cons of a future technology that determines the path of your life.

Over all though, this isn't a life shaking movie, at best it's a small independent romance with all the usual stereotypes that come from independently funded movies. This includes actors and actress who haven't seen top billing, and low-budget sets. This lack of the Hollywood style that we are used to though isn't an issue when it comes to the character of Oona. She really is set up to be a sweetheart in our eyes through the highlighting that follows her character and the soft almost dreamy quality of her clothes. Sometimes in a orthodontist's white robe when the sunlight is streaming through the window surely following Oona down whatever path she chooses, we are almost blinded. It's almost as though we turned up the light the whole way on our computer monitors and were momentarily blinded the next time we turned it on.

Every additional character in this movie then is set up to counter Oona's frailness and her light especially the character of her sister and best friend. Not to be cliche but the sister character is everything that Oona is not. Dark bangs, a dark scowl and a snarky personality to match she lives in a world that isn't full of the sunlight that Oona embraces. The sister character is most at home in the florescent lighting of her nursing home job or the dank shadows of her moonlighting bar job. When the sisters are presented back to back the contrast is sharply present and simply highlights first, the good job of the actress that plays Oona and second how different their two worlds are even thought they inhabit the same sci-fi future.

In conclusion, although 'Timer' is a low budget romance (when you go straight to Netflixs that means something) the protagonist character really was remarkable in standing above the crowd. Through mis-en-scene but particularly lighting, the female lead of this movie contrasted with her mostly bleak world and the bleakness of the characters around her to really be a light in a gray world.

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