Time Sweep / Tiempo muerto (dir. Victor Postiglione, 2016) – After the death of his wife Julia, Franco finds a dangerous way to bring her back.
An understated and evocative drama, on life after death in more ways than one.
Franco (Guillermo Pfening) has just lost his wife Julia (Maria Nela Sinisterra) to a sudden accident. The heartbroken widower will do anything to bring her back. In Julia’s diary, he finds an unorthodox way in the mysterious phenomenon, “tiempo muerto”. Known as a dead moment, this is when he gets to meet his love for the last time – in a memory of the past.
From Argentinian director Victor Postiglione, Tiempo muerto is a lean and well-paced independent drama with minimal excess. Sans the usual time travel theatrics, the taut thriller relies in verism and leaves fantasy to the fringes. The result is a character-driven dramatic core, veracity cemented by brilliant central performances.
Guillermo Pfening is the spark of the film, with his heartrending portrayal of Franco’s gradual downward spiral. This credibility is in part due to the brilliant chemistry he shares with Maria Nela Sinisterra, who makes it easy to feel his grief of sudden loss. Franco’s palpable despair easily ropes the audience into rooting for his restless quest, towards the promised reunion with his late wife.
Ambiguity behind Julia’s work mentor Luis Ayala (Luis Luque) adds intrigue to the deepening mystery of the astral plane – in the secret he clearly holds. The eventual revelation of his fib falls flat, yet the suspenseful lead-up of uncertainty remains riveting.
For a film so deeply rooted in realism, some may call it risk-averse. But this understated story brings across the common sentiments of those who have ever lost someone abruptly: There is always that hope for a second chance to end things right, as if we forget that life after death should be that of the bereaved, not the dead.
Stepping away from recent action-oriented time loops (ARQ, Project Almanac), Tiempo muerto‘s humanistic take comes as a breath of fresh air. It is just as well that metaphysics comes second, even if I do love temporal paradoxes in fiction. Heartfelt storytelling is what comes up top for this genre film, a quiet reminder that beckons us to move forward from the prison of our haunted pasts.
Tiempo Muerto is available on Netflix.