YESTERDAY LAST YEAR (2017)
Directed by Jeffrey Hanley
SCI-FI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2017 runs from 27 April – 6 May https://sci-fi-london.com/
After being suspended for an incident at the university he worked for, scientist Michael spends much of his waking hours working on his time machine in his garage lab, much to the annoyance of his wife. After reaching numerous dead ends, Michael finally fits together all the pieces with the aid of his friend James and they have in front of them a working time machine. Michael is keen to stick it to Andrew, his boss at the university who didn’t believe in his work, whereas James has other ideas for the device, hoping to fix his past seven years ago. Wife Sandra just wants her honeymoon in Paris but spies the machine as a way to set them up financially for life but what will Michael decide to do and has the machine already been used before?
YESTERDAY LAST YEAR is a static time-travel movie that spends most of its running-time in the dimly lit garage lab of its lead character, Michael. Michael is a dreamer and belives his big break will come from making the world’s first working time machine but his quest has seen wife Sandra financially supporting them for the last two years since his dismissal from work for an unexplained accident. Much of her married life to Michael has been spent alone with her husband choosing to work on his time machine than spend time with her. Unbeknownst to Sandra, Michael’s friend James has been giving him a helping hand and when the project is finally realised, they discover that maybe their timeline isn’t as original and untampered with as they first thought.
I often enjoy time-travel movies because, whilst bending my brain, they provide some interesting angles that conjure up all sorts of possibilities. However, YESTERDAY LAST YEAR ‘s choice of shooting in one location makes this a confusing effort rather than an entertaining one, especially when its sole focus is a love triangle that is both dull to watch play out and lacklustre due to the weak character development and backstory. Its constant switching and replaying of familiar scenes only serves to disorientate the viewer as well as the characters as neither knows what timeline or moment the action on-screen is playing out in. Between Sandra mithering to go Paris and aching to play future winning lottery numbers to James’ obsession of fixing his past relationship mistakes with Sandra, there’s not really much inbetween except for Michael, sitting there on his stool, playing with a harddrive and popping items and people into his chest freezer time-travel portals. It really is a struggle to watch and get excited about.
Whilst I can appreciate the budget will have been small for this indie effort, the lack of meat to the actual story is where the film falls flat, especially with the choice not to explore the lives of these people outside of the garage. When you’ve got films like The Butterfly Effect that deal with relationships in a much more convincing and interesting way, it’s hard to recommend a film that never really leaves the starting block.