dir. Junta Yamaguchi
Following in the footsteps of 2017’s One Cut of the Dead, this Japanese sci-fi comedy explores the boundaries of narrative filmmaking and presents a sweet and uplifting story about the power of positive thinking. Kato (Kazunari Tosa) discovers the monitor connecting his upstairs apartment to the café he manages below is a window into the future, but only by two minutes. As he and an increasing number of friends (and foes) attempt to understand the ramifications of this phenomenon, Kato learns important truths about himself and the power he holds over his own destiny.
What initially seems to be a limited concept expands in increasingly delightful ways as characters try to control time from both sides of the monitors. The two minute structure sets up a clever system of vignettes that seamlessly weave together as the overall structure of the time loop develops.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes may be just the film we need after a year of seemingly never ending negativity. Created in an acting workshop and filmed entirely on an iPhone, the story unfolds in long, continuous shots that beg to be dissected. Audiences will find themselves bouncing back and forth between puzzling out the film’s logic and figuring out how first time director Yamaguchi managed to capture it – but that’s all part of the fun. Some plot points strain the limits of logic and others would perhaps work better in live theatre, but the ensemble cast’s commitment to the story is contagious and combines with the unique concept to transcend some of the clunkier elements.
The introduction of two different groups of outsiders complicates a rapidly spiralling story and poses existential questions about the ethics of time travel and the nature of free will: how much are we controlled by destiny? And what will happen if we step outside of our seemingly approved courses of action?
The uplifting ending ultimately makes a larger statement on taking chances and breaking free from our past expectations, a welcome message in a year when so many of us are re-evaluating our lives and fundamental beliefs. The film itself is a scant seventy minutes long, but the message found in the infinite two has the power to last a lifetime.