Director: Sloane U’Ren
Writer: Antony Neely (screenplay)
Stars: Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Camilla Rutherford, Patrick Godfrey, Olivia Llewellyn
Runtime: 101 min
Released: 09 Mar 2013
Synopsis: Cambridge, England, 1921 – or so it seems. A brilliant young scientist becomes obsessed with finding a way back to his past – no matter what the cost.
The film follows Stephen, a brilliant young scientist who lives in Cambridge, England, in what appears to be the 1920s. His world is turned upside down upon meeting a charismatic and inspirational professor at a garden party, who demonstrates to Stephen and his friends what life would be like if they were one-, or two-dimensional beings. He then proceeds to explain that by manipulating other dimensions, time travel may actually be possible.
Soon after the professor’s visit, Stephan,his cousin, Conrad, and his neighbor, Victoria, were fooling around by a well. Conrad throws Victoria’s skipping rope down the well. The nanny catches the boys rolling around fighting and drags them in the house by the ears leaving Victoria alone to play outside by herself. After some time, she decides to climb down the well to get her skipping rope. She never climbs out of the well and her body is never found.
As Stephen’s life unfolds, events lead him to dedicate himself to turning the Professor’s theories of time travel into reality. Jealousy, love, obsession, temptation and greed surround him, influencing his fragile mind and the direction of his work.
We start in 1921 – “one of many”, as a subtitle informs us – watching three children play: Stephen (Sam Harrison) and Conrad (George Thomas), cousins who are more like brothers and now living together, and Victoria (Hannah Carson), the next-door neighbor who is mutually smitten with Stephen. A strange old Professor (Patrick Godfrey) drops in on the garden party and delights them with talk of time travel and other dimensions, but that will, unfortunately, be what the week is remembered for fifteen years later. In 1936, Stephen (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) is still living with his mother (Camilla Rutherford); he’s a brilliant theoretical physicist obsessed with building a time machine even though his theories suggest, with ninety-nine percent certainty, that changing the past is impossible. He’s aided at first by Conrad (Sean Hart), with the pair later joined by Annie (Olivia Llewellyn), who attended one of Stephen’s lectures and may perhaps have grown interested in more than just the structure of spacetime.
It’s interesting that writer Antony Neely (through Stephen) implies not just a “many worlds” cosmology for Dimensions, but the extreme one where every possible binary decision is made both ways (perhaps even at the quantum level), because the implication is not just that you can’t change the past, but that free will itself is an illusion. This is done early, and sets the tone for the rest of the movie – it won’t be a story of the mechanics of getting a specific result; rather, it will be a story of paths that cannot be left – a tragedy of unavoidable obsession.
This would work a bit better if Neely and director Sloane U’Ren gave the inevitability a bit of a harder sell. As well as the “tangle of threads” model serves them, it does come from the mouth of a character with mental health issues, and is one of a number of issues that get mentioned but not really explored. The love triangle that forms at the center of the film is occasionally frustrating for some of the same reasons – we’re shown actual chemistry between Annie and Conrad only to see the characters give the other pairing more weight even though it’s an obvious disaster. And yet, nobody thinks to give Stephen the “actual present girl who likes you” speech or advise Annie on the likelihood of her affection being fully returned. Then there’s this long segment where Stephen practices navigating a rope sculpture more-or-less blindfolded, which is pretty, but never really convinces the audience of its usefulness.
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Note: Audio is only in English.