Judge Brett Cullum can't remember why his last relationship didn't work out, and maybe that's why it didn't.
We remember. We forget. We remember again, yet differently.
Time and Tide is a low budget romantic comedy shot on digital video that asks questions about a man and his myriad mistakes in relationships with women. We get to observe Robert Carter (Christopher Heltai, Trailer: The Movie!) as he drifts from one woman to the next in a series of vignettes that show us bits and pieces of his romantic failings. He's navigating the obtuse world of dating the opposite sex in Los Angeles, and each pairing presents him with a loopy partner who throws curveballs at him ever so subtlety at every turn. The conceit is these are his memories, and we are leading up to the present, where he will finally have an epiphany on how to be a better man and make all of this work.
The film retains a more European feel as it simply allows scenes to play out naturally without much editorial comment. We see scenes for what they are with little flourish or quick editing. The actors are allowed to play moments out as if they were in a stage production, and it lends an organic feel to the study of these relationships. The twist here is that although it all takes a Scenes From a Marriage approach, certain sequences pop up again in a slightly different form. This is a film as much about memory as it is about relationships, and how objects in that internal rearview mirror may appear closer than they are. How do we twist things to our advantage emotionally, or how do things play out differently when thought of in another context?
The director is Michael Carvaines, who also wrote and produced Time and Tide. He comes out of marketing for major films, and this is his second feature film produced under his own company. You've probably heard of some of his marketing projects such as A History of Violence, Gosford Park, and hundreds of others. This project seems like a personal exorcism for a guy grappling with relationships as Michael, a native of Ohio, is now "living the dream" in LA. It wouldn't surprise me much to find out much of this is autobiographical. Time and Tide really rings true to life, and that is probably its greatest strength.
The cinematography works well for this feature, and most interesting is the choice to repeat certain scenes with minor tweaks to angle or mood to create the memory mosaic. We get to see a lot of Los Angeles, and the city becomes the third party in every relationship we witness. Aaron Platt is the man behind the lens, and he keeps things looking far better than what you would expect from his shoestring budget constraints.
The transfer is clean enough thanks to the digital source. It all looks fine and dandy, except for the fact that it is not an anamorphic treatment and merely presented in a letterbox format. Stereo is all the dialogue-heavy movie requires, and it services the narrative just fine. There are no extras, and not even scene selections on the bare-bones DVD release. I think a good explanation of the film as a commentary or featurette could have added a lot to the feature since it feels so personal. No such luck though, you have to take the film on its own terms.
Time and Tide will feel painfully familiar to still single 30-somethings in large cities like NYC or LA. It raises the insecurities of romantic life, and makes you wonder what really happened every time some one ended up not being right for you. Was it them or you? In all honesty, it was probably a joint effort, but for the sake of this meditation, it might as well be you and your memory. It's a movie that signifies it's not where we've been, but where we think we've been that matters most. If you like realistic, intimate, relationship indie films, this one could be right up your alley.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Micar Productions
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