DVD REVIEW: FREQUENCIES / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: DARREN PAUL FISHER / SCREENPLAY: DARREN PAUL FISHER / STARRING: DANIEL FRASER, ELEANOR WYLD, OWEN PUGH, DAVID BROUGHTON-DAVIES / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 20TH
If you’ve ever been the bright kid in the class whom the prettiest girl didn’t even know existed, you’ll understand exactly where Frequencies is coming from. Darren Paul Fisher’s film is a teen romance that couldn’t be more different if it tried. Essentially a cross between Gattaca and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, evoking themes from each and with a tone that is exactly at the midpoint between the two, Frequencies is an unassuming and yet thoroughly involving film that might well surprise people into inclusion on their All-Time Favourites lists. It is charming and unpredictable – and yet thoroughly consistently plotted – but not for all tastes.
Set in a universe that evokes Philip K. Dick by way of Charlie Kaufman, Zak is a “low frequency” who is entertaining a Brigadoon-esque romance with his “high frequency” classmate Marie, meeting up for just one minute a year – and Frequencies is the story, told first from her perspective and then from his, of how the two manage to overcome the limitations nature has placed upon their burgeoning relationship, and of how science can be used to conquer otherwise insurmountable obstacles. That this is just the initial premise and the journey that Frequencies takes the viewer on thereafter is best left unremarked upon, suffice it to say that Fisher’s script is both deft and imaginative; the manner by which the two first encounter is as delicate and apposite as everything that follows.
The performances are all first-rate, from a cast made up largely of juvenile and junior actors, with the adults playing at a slightly arch level as if seen from the younger characters’ perspective, which distinguishes the filmmaking as intelligent and measured. Indeed, this is an approach that permeates the whole film, which doesn’t make a single misstep in its entire running time. Fisher has taken his premise and worked it through in a rational fashion that nevertheless allows for some genuine emotive beats, mirroring his subject matter precisely. The resolution to the question that the second half of Frequencies sets up is both logical and yet affecting and unforeseen, and is one of the film’s more delightful moments – and allows for a coda that wraps things up in an even more surprising way, with an audacious nod to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia as it does.
If there is one criticism that can be levelled at Fisher’s film, it is perhaps that it doesn’t engage the heart quite as efficiently as it engages the mind, but that’s a small price to pay for something so wonderfully odd and yet so compelling. If you like your cinema psychologically fulfilling yet emotionally persuasive, this thoughtful and quietly brave minor masterpiece is an absolute essential.