Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fantasia Film Fest Review: Cryptic


She's Got Bette Davis Eyes!Cryptic (2009) imdb Fantasia
Directed by Danny Kuchuck and John Weiner
Written by Danny Kuchuck and John Weiner

On July 4, 2000, 9 year old Jessie Graver (Jadin Gould) is given a cell phone by her Mother for her birthday so that she can call home. Nine years later, Jessie (Julie Carlson) finds the cell phone, which she has never used, because her Mother died the same day that she gave Jessie the cell phone. On a whim, Jessie calls her old home phone number with the cell phone...

And is answered by the nine year old Jessie.

So begins Cryptic, a cracker-jack science-fiction thriller which proves that you don't need millions of dollars in special effects to film a great science-fiction movie, at least if you have millions of dollars worth of great ideas.

Cryptic succeeds because it pulls a trick out of the Walter Simonson (comic-book writer of Thor) handbook, which is to say it pulls the trigger on the plot. Many films of this type would place artificial barriers in Jessie's way. Cryptic gets out of Jessie's way, allows her to chase her dreams, and then pursues what happens after you succeed in changing the past.

Ultimately this film is about all the things that you always wanted to tell your Dad, but never could.

Comparisons will be drawn to Gregory Hoblit's Frequency. (Both films are mysteries, both are about lost parents, both postulate that sending people back through time may be impossible, but sending information back through time might be possible) The difference is that Cryptic is simultaneously simpler and more complex than Frequency, avoiding most of Frequency's baroque plot twists in favour of a more organic plot that nests inside of itself like a set of Russian dolls.

Nuclear catstrophe and plagues can be wiped from history, but Love is Eternal!The more apt comparison is to James P. Hogan's novel Thrice Upon A Time about a group of scientists who discover a way to send information back through time from a computer to the same computer in the past, but only in messages 120 characters long. (Can you change the past with a Twitter message?) The clearest connection between novel and film is that both believe that it is possible to change someone's destiny, but it is impossible to change someone's character.

And with a character like Jessie Graver, you wouldn't want to make a change. The entire cast is incredibly strong, but Julie Carlson as the teen Jessie - haunted by her past and Jadin Gould as the young Jessie - bravely facing her present, make the film come alive.

Cryptic is a film that will greatly reward those who track it down to solve its puzzles.

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