UK Release Date – TBC
Quantum physics buzzwords may not sound like the most logical choice for a story that is part thriller, part mental breakdown and part romantic comedy, but here we are. As the movie itself suggests, everything happens for a reason. Which paradoxically is a line of thinking that isn’t very scientific. However like the film in question there are certain aspects that are at odds with one another. Do you want a quirky mystery about clueless guys meeting enigmatic women or a bleak story about suicide attempts and twisted black comedy? Well you’re getting both so simmer down as we take a look at this oddball tale of intertwined lives and prescription drugs.
Our aimless hero Ben (Thomas Middleditch) isn’t having a great day, and things still don’t go his way after a series of possible choices for a quick death fail one after another. It’s an incredible bleak opening that manages to be darkly funny while at the same time creating a sense of desperation. It’s a bit contrived perhaps, but it gets the point across efficiently. Maybe his choice of therapist is problematic, since he seems to be seeing a child therapist he happens to know rather than someone being paid to help him properly. This also gets a point across efficiently, but maybe it’s a bit on the nose. Ben is a big kid who can’t handle the adult world.
It’s a simple premise but when it’s suggested his breakdown stems from a divorce it’s hard to see why he can’t move on. His parents are also living separately, and yet they seem to still get along. Even a child he chats at the clinic seems to be working through her own parents marital problems. In the face of these issues Ben just isn’t that sympathetic, and he comes across as kind of one dimensional and self obsessed. People don’t always stay together, it’s not the end of the world. However the big timeline of life events on drawn on his apartment wall suggests that his state of mind may be worse than it first appears.
Things take a turn when he meets Hanna (Jess Weixler) in the local pharmacy, who seems to have an unnaturally keen interest in him. Meanwhile Ben’s father has suffered a heart attack, and reveals that he and his mother once chose to adopt a baby girl but gave her up when she became pregnant. So of course Ben takes the logical stance that his life is so bad because he never had a sister growing up. In a quote that sums up the movie his neighbour Tabby (Diana Bang) says ‘don’t be stupid’. But Ben goes on with this new obsession and eventually finds out of course that Hanna is the same girl he could have grown up with. If this all sounds a little messy that’s because it is.
On the one hand you have a lot of hazy visuals and musical montages as Hanna and Ben become friends, which are trite and cheesy. Nobody finds this sort of mawkish boy meets energetic girl storyline interesting – even when there are some rather suspicious undercurrents to it all. On the other hand there are some mildly interesting ideas about quantum entanglement, people tethered by fate, and the idea of parallel lives and multiverses. The music video style even becomes appropriate as Ben’s health becomes progressively worse and the symptoms he suffers from become more outlandish.
However this tends to create a confused tone in which things are often serious and dour before suddenly becoming whimsical. Ben himself even points this out at one stage in a moment of clarity. The scientific discussions are frequent but feel lacking, while the time spent really exploring these characters is minimal. Ben has big problems but they’re never really developed, and while Tabby’s nosy neighbour act is revealed over time to be something more it’s also lacking characterisation. She’s the most likeable member of the cast, but everyone is generally a bit too flat or a bit too perfunctory even if the performances are all fine.
Eventually this does head into some pretty interesting places, with a reasonably interesting bait and switch being revealed towards the end. It’s never as profound as it wants to be, but it does at least manage to be compelling. The results are the sort of thing that’s been done in other thrillers, just as the more romantic elements have been done in many love stories before. It’s just a shame that some of Ben’s behaviour and lack of self awareness is put down to the pills he takes rather than anything deeper. The conclusions being drawn are a bit neat and some of the more problematic revelations are glossed over too quickly.
For a weird mixture of all these ideas it’s worth a look, but it could have been executed with more flair. The simplistic romance storyline hinted at during the first half does at least turn to be something darker and more engaging. But a lot of the time it is just the sum of these parts whether it’s Ben talking to himself in the mirror, his divorce drama, or the psychological thriller tropes that show up as things unravel. Maybe this kind of plot is just forever entangled with previous scripts, fated to go through these same motions.