This entertaining time-travel black comedy begins with Hector (Karra Elejalde) noticing an attractive naked woman (Barbara Goenaga) through his binoculars as he and his wife Clara (Candela Fernandez) are moving into their new house. However, when he goes into the nearby woods to find the woman, he encounters a mysterious masked man, who pursues him until he seeks refuge in a nearby laboratory run by a scientist (Vigalondo), where he ends up travelling back in time to earlier that morning. Hector must try to correct any mistakes he made, however, he and the scientist soon find that doing this is easier said than done, as multiple versions of himself keep emerging and he finds himself caught in a never-ending time loop.
Director-writer Vigalondo effectively uses his structure to provide some interesting surprises for the audience through the recreations of the same situations from differing perspectives. In particular, the revelations of the identities of the masked pursuer and a mysterious phone caller proving to be the most striking examples of these narrative twists.
Vigalondo also makes ample use of the blackly comedic potentials of Hector’s situation, with even his scientist character eventually becoming increasingly confused by the multiple Hectors as the film progresses. Other examples involve the film’s female characters – Clara and the woman in the forest, who have to bear the brunt of the violence.
Goenaga particularly goes through a fair amount during the course of the film, with her forced stripping and accidental incapacitation at the hands of the masked stranger standing out in this post-MeToo environment as something that would receive noticeable criticism. Nevertheless, Vigalondo, Elejalde and Goenaga all manage to ensure that these actions do not come across as exploitative in comparison to other films containing similar sequences.
Both Elejalde and Vigalondo himself provide engaging performances, Elejalde especially effectively conveys the different personalities of each version of Hector, going from a confused middle-aged man at the beginning to a more ruthless and aggressive version of himself who isn’t afraid to use violence to get what he needs.
Overall, Timecrimes manages to be an engaging and darkly comedic time-travel thriller that never gets overly wrapped up in its narrative twists and contains enough laughs and intriguing plot developments to keep the viewer engaged. Vigalondo later went on to write and direct the Anne Hathaway-starring kaiju comedy-drama Colossal and has recently written the fantasy film Paradise Hills featuring Emma Roberts and Eliza Gonzalez (Baby Driver), so it’s interesting to see the film that first got him noticed by English-language audiences.