An intricate one-take wonder, brimming with smarts and charm
There are times as a film critic, or even a film fan, that you hope people will take a suggestion to watch something, and just get to it. It sounds clichéd, but it’s true. That untainted discovery of a real gem that manages to absolutely delight you, in the absence of any expectations, is a rare thing these days. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes does just that. A one-take wonder, centered around a time bending premise, that is just brimming with smarts and charm.
Kato (Kazunori Tosa) lives in a small apartment he keeps above his teahouse in Japan. One day, he hears a familiar voice coming from his computer screen, himself. This Kato claims to be speaking from the future, two minutes ahead to be precise. After a back and forth where Kato manages to convince himself he speaks the truth, present Kato shares his discovery with his friends ( and employees. Together they try to understand this phenomena, and eventually find ways to take advantage of their window into their not too distant future.
Shot on an iPhone, Beyond has a barebones feel. A devilishly smart conceit, with a lo-fi approach that will revitalize your faith in the time-travel genre and filmmaking in general. Comparisons will inevitably be with another Fantastic Fest favorite, One Cut of the Dead, a one-take horror movie that similarly delighted and surprised as it unfolded. Thankfully Beyond comes in at a brisk 70 minutes. Not a second is wasted though, as the film smartly outlines the rules about this hole in time. This tea shop crew adorably astonished at what they find, curiously testing theories, pranking each other, and seeing if it’s possible to push beyond the limitations of what they have stumbled into. All the while, the film starts to ponder some philosophical questions, fuel a long simmering romance, oh and draw a small crew of criminals into the mix. Beyond doesn’t seek to outsmart its audience, but instead to disarm and delight them.
Makoto Ueda‘s twisty-turny script is matched by Junta Yamaguchi’s whirling direction. It may look simple, but the timing, camera movement and blocking is impeccably staged. The film also appears to unfold in the form of one enthralling single take. Its as merry as it is meticulous thanks to the cast, one made up from the Europe Kikaku theatre group. Together they craft characters that run from the maudlin to the quirky, all reveling in the absurdity of this situation. Their work underlines what a labor of love this effort is. While it’s easy to get caught up in the intricacies and playfulness of the plot, the film never loses sight of a more reflective component. The pressure of prescience as well the importance of not getting caught up in the past, or what has yet to come. Farce turns to fable as Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes ultimately champions living in the moment. Just endearingly inventive and joyously entertaining from start to finish.