Directed by: Shayaan
Written by: Shayaan
Starring: Rory Walton-Smith, Vishal Kumar
There always comes a film in your life that inspires you to a great extent. The effect it has on you goes beyond the typical viewing experience. These are the kind of films that have the power to change the course of your life or career. For instance, the lukewarm reception towards A Cure for Wellness galvanized me to write my own movie reviews. In the case of Shayaan’s Paradoxica, the filmmakers find motivation in Christopher Nolan and his latest sci-fi Tenet. However, one can also locate traces of Shane Carruth’s Primer here.
Paradoxica follows two friends, played by Rory Walton-Smith and Vishal Kumar, who come across a box with the power to initiate time travel. The maker of this box is one of their friend who video calls them one day and informs about his new invention. He also tells them that someone has misused this box for their benefit (he wants to be rich). I will be vague with the characters name and the main plot because I was not able to catch the names as the audio was abstruse (subtitles would have been a life-saver), making the accents and some dialogues challenging to grasp (the sound too seems to be influenced by Tenet). But in a film like this, the name and the plot rarely matter. They are more interested in the scientific concept and how to explore the concept.
So get ready to receive expositions on “inversion” in Nolan-style, where two people walk and talk to fill the gaps for the audience. There is no doubt about the fact that things will go bizarre and out-of-control, which is a common trait of any time travel film. The camera rotates in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions to heighten the disorientation. The scenes are edited in a way that makes them look dislocated. A phone, for example, is dropped outside on the road and picked up inside a house from the floor. Paradoxica attempts to join the fragmented pieces of its narrative as if trying to make sense of the chaos, and the editing plays a crucial role in communicating this mood. We jump from one place to another and back, figuring out the proper arrangement of the puzzle.
If you think Paradoxica may be too hard to follow, fret not as you only need to pay attention to understand its mayhem. You will undoubtedly be able to decipher the question, “what is going on here?” in your first viewing without putting in much effort. If this team wants to continue making more films, just make sure you pay a little more attention to the technical side of things in the future. There are shots with mirrors where you could spot the cameraman. A scene at night shows a character running with a light shining directly behind him. You could instead give the torch to the actor. Then there is the scene in front of an elevator where the staging becomes too obvious. A more natural approach would have been better than this calculated one.
Take the above points as a footnote or discard them altogether—your wish. I am aware that the film is made on a low-budget. But to go up, you also need to clear obstacles. It’s good to see filmmakers tackling the complexities of sci-fi without relying heavily on extravagant computer-generated visuals. That itself deserves an extra star.