Review: Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes — Fantasia Festival 2021

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, the directorial debut of Junta Yamaguchi, is a quirky, lean sci-fi comedy about characters in a cafe who discover a two-minute-long time loop which occurs through a computer monitor. Filmed to emulate a single take, we see the characters experience the same events from two different perspectives as they discover that they can communicate with themselves from two minutes into the future (or, later on, four or six or eight minutes down the line).

It is a creative premise, filmed ambitiously given the low budget and with energetic handheld camera work (the end credits show behind-the-scenes of the filming process, showing the camera operator running back and forth and jumping on top of desks to get shots on cramped sets). It would be easy to champion a production like this for taking a big swing, and credit is due. This gets an A for effort in executing this premise.

However, the narrative is limited by its own design. The film is structured, essentially by necessity, so that it depicts each scene twice (in its entirety) from different sides of a shot-reverse shot. With a measly runtime of 70 minutes, this leaves minimal time for actual plot development.

Eventually, this repeating structure is complicated by deeper levels of recursion—a nesting doll design where enough iterations of an event are occurring that the film can pause long enough to develop action in the present. But this comes slightly too late to execute the emotional payoff involving the film’s central character. The first 40 minutes of the film is hampered by characters who are far too slow on the uptake regarding the situation they find themselves in, with the script re-explaining to the audience what the audience already knows. This leaves the final half hour little room to breathe as it expands the world that this time travel exists within.

But at the end of the day, this film is light and whimsical in an endearing way. There are humorous moments that make up for the incessant explanation—the payoff on a message into the past regarding a zebra pillbug toy is particularly well-done. It just takes too long for the story to build to something that is engaging.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is screening as part of the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival taking place from Aug. 5 to Aug. 25.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes: B-

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)

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