Review: “TiMER” (2009)

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Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Emma Caulfield (previously Anya from "Buffy") plays orthodontist Oona in the indie film, "TiMER."

“TiMER” is perhaps the smartest and most charming romantic indie film I’ve seen in a while. It upends–then sets back up in a rather sad way–notions of biological clocks and the quest for one’s soulmate.

We’re in an alternate world where people can get TiMER implants that indicate exactly when a person will meet his/her true love. Enter step-sisters Oona (played by the brilliant Emma Caulfield) and Steph (the also brilliant Michelle Borth). They both share a birthday as if twins, and both have TiMER problems. The former’s TiMER doesn’t even show any countdown at all, while the latter’s indicates she will meet her soulmate when she’s much much older after much much waiting. It’s a cruel fate for the two sisters that they try to defy by falling in love with men they know they were never meant to be with. Enter Mikey (played with such adorable naivete by John Patrick Amedori) and Dan (the understated Desmond Harrington). Mikey is 22 and engages in a relationship with the 29-going-on-30 Oona; they are endearing opposites–she’s got a career as an orthodontist and he’s a musician who’s still perhaps trying to figure out his life. Dan, on the other hand, woos the jaded Steph, who in her too-long wait for her soulmate has made one-night stands the norm of her life. But the two couples’ respective relationships are horribly torn asunder when Oona’s TiMER starts to sound in the presence of Dan’s, meaning they are meant to be with each other, and not with their current partners. Old relationships make way for the potential of a new one.

Predictable this movie was not. The film could have settled for simple feel-good resolutions, but it’s better than that. Though I must say that the ending horrified me the first time I saw it. The film seemed to have led the viewer to invest so much in Oona’s and Mikey’s relationship, so much so that to have Dan (Steph’s man) suddenly inserted into the picture felt an amazingly cruel twist of fate. The lovers should succeed in their defiance of fate, damn it! But after thinking on it more, I started to understand the meant bittersweetness of the ending. It’s a happy ending tinged with tragedy: Oona finally gets what she wants, but at the expense of others. The sense of dissatisfaction I felt was actually the reality dawning on me that Mikey’s and Oona’s relationship truly was doomed, a moot point. We rooted on for them to be together, but it just would never have worked out, something we knew from the very start but hoped against. She uses words like “moot” and “stoic” that he doesn’t even understand; they enjoy each other’s company but essentially live in different worlds.

Writer/director Jac Schaeffer's (front center) script brims with inspiration.

Jac Schaeffer’s writing is spot-on here, with killer scenes sprinkled all throughout the film with such cleverness and profundity. In one scene, Oona’s mother says she’s the daughter she was meant to have and that her second husband Paul (not Oona’s father) is the man she was meant to be with–a contradiction of course, as Oona’s mother would never have had Oona had she directly met her second husband. In another scene, Mikey tells Oona he loves her, but having put so much importance on what the TiMERs say, she can’t accept his sincerity nor reciprocate that love. Shows just how fixation on the idea of a soulmate can truly muddle things or blind a person.

Andrew Kaiser’s score is just so perfect, especially during the scene in which Oona decides to say to hell with the TiMER and pursue Mikey. The music so perfectly captures her impulsive resolve (drums beat to her march), then indecision (the ticks of a clock await her decision), then finally her just going for it (the music swells triumphantly).

It goes without saying that I am in love with this film. A definite must-see!

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