Claudio Torres’ quirky, inventive Brazilian time-paradox sci-fi drama (don’t worry, it’s sub-titled....wait, why are you still running?) released in 2011 finally gets a UK DVD release (other formats are undoubtedly available) and it’s great fun. Wagner Moura plays brilliant scientist Joao (known as ‘Zero’ following a cruel, confidence-sapping incident during his student years) whose experiments with a particle accelerator send him back in time to 1991 – and the very moment when he is very publicly humiliated and betrayed by his beautiful girlfriend Helena (Moraes) at a college party. Zero quickly seizes the opportunity to change history but in doing so alters his own timeline; he discovers that in the future he’s now become an obscenely-wealthy but horribly-corrupt businessman who has still managed to lose the girl of his dreams. He still has the ability to travel back in time to change things; but can Zero and, indeed, history, cope with the prospect of three versions of the same person existing in the same time and place, each of them with different agendas?
The Man from the Future is a fast-paced, occasionally over-played time travel romp which treats its time paradox storyline with great intelligence and sensitivity, taking time to consider the ramifications of a man travelling back to tamper with his own history and the dangers inherent in someone choosing to keep on doing so until he gets the desired result – and how disastrous the consequences can be. This isn’t a film powered by flashy visuals – there are some decent FX sequences when Zero travels through time and the camera trickery to create three Zeros is deft and convincing. But it’s quietly comedic too; Zero is a genius but he’s a bit bumbling and manic and, in his earliest incarnation, utterly lacking in self-confidence and Ricardo, his rival for Maria’s affections, in a louche, stereotypical sleazeball. But the film nimbly keeps its central time travel conceit rolling and, despite the potential for the story to lose its coherence and clarity, it actually becomes more intriguing and impressively adept at keeping it various balls in the air without fumbling any of them.
The Man From the Future is a treat for fans of thought-provoking, serpentine time travel stories. It’s refreshing to see a world cinema genre movie handling the sort of material Hollywood churns out from its conveyor belt with a lot more passion, enthusiasm and intelligence than many budget-bloated mainstream efforts which repeatedly put the emphasise on bang and bluster over brains. The Man From the Future is, to coin an apt phrase, worth your time. Grande filme, recommenda!
THE MAN FROM THE FUTURE / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: CLAUDIO TORRES / STARRING: WAGNER MOURA, ALINNE MORAES, MARIA LUISA MENDONCA, FERNANDO CEYLAO / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 9TH