Timecode


Directed by: Mike Figgis
Written by:Mike Figgis
Starring: Saffron Burrows, Salma Hayek, Glenne Headly, Holly Hunter, Kyle MacLachlan, Leslie Mann, Julian Sands, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Released: September 14, 2000
Grade: A-

Mike Figgis is a director renowned for new cinematic techniques evidenced by Timecode.  This film is revolutionary for three reasons - it is shot entirely with digital cameras, it is shot in real time with no editing whatsoever, and it is shot with four cameras that appear on screen simultaneously.

With four screens in action, it’s hard to keep up with everything going on but here’s my interpretation of events as the story begins.  Lauren (Tripplehorn) and Rose (Hayek) are lovers with Lauren giving Rose a lift to an audition for a new movie.  Emma (Burrows) is at her therapist (Headey) discussing her relationship problems.  In a boardroom, a meeting is to about to take place but the boss, Alex (Skarsgard) is late and is suspected of drinking again.  Finally, we meet a security guard at the front entrance of an office complex who doesn’t seem to be doing much at all.

I won’t reveal any more because this film does call upon your intelligence to keep track of all the cameras, all the characters and all the interaction.  The sound fluctuates from camera to camera depending on which has the more important action but if you listen closely, you can follow any particular camera you desire.  It’s not as difficult to watch as you might think.

The utmost praise has to go to Mike Figgis for pulling this off.  He controls one camera and Tony Cucchiari, James Wharton O’Keefe and Patrick Alexander Stewart control the other three.  Just think of the logistics of the whole creation.  All four cameramen have to make sure that none run into each other and appear on screen.  They also are on the run for the full 90 minutes without any break whatsoever.  All the actors have to be aware which camera they’re talking to and know all their actions and lines for the full duration.  Jeanne Tripplehorn has to be singled out for her dazzling performance that is emphasised by the fact she appears on screen for the entire movie.  It’s not easy and yet everything flows so well that you don’t notice the lack of editing.

Figgis has publicly stated that this film is designed for DVD usage.  When released early in 2001, you’ll be able to watch the whole movie from one camera if you like.  If watching all four, you’ll have the option of turning up the volume on whichever camera you choose.  It’s very overwhelming but it shows just what can be done in today’s world.  Technology has arrived and it’s time to move forward...