Timecode

Depending on how you look at it, Figgis' fascinating film is the story of an alcoholic movie producer on the verge of a nervous breakdown; or it's about a two-timing lesbian starlet who gets her first big break; or it's a critical day in the life of a fledgling film production company; or it's a portrait of spurned wives, lovers and actresses on the LA scene. Four movies in one, Timecode splits the screen on a horizontal and a vertical axis to showcase simultaneously four unbroken shots, each 93 minutes long. The initial dizzying sensory overload doesn't last. An ingenious sound mix and the familiar faces of Skarsgård, Hayek, Tripplehorn, Sands, Hunter and Burrows invite you to conspire order from the chaos. Characters from the top left screen bump into their neighbours from bottom right, while at two o'clock they're bitching about those assholes screwing them at eight. Like a riff on Altman's Short Cuts and The Player, it adds up to a properly jaundiced satire of Hollywood on the rocks. The movie is a stunt, a conceptual in-joke; or it's a portent of cinema to come; or it's a brilliant but hollow technical exercise; or it's a dynamic if erratic ensemble improv. Make of it what you will, it's certainly something to see.

Release details

Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mike Figgis
Screenwriter: Mike Figgis
Cast: Holly Hunter
Salma Hayek
Jeanne Tripplehorn
Julian Sands
Saffron Burrows
Stellan Skarsgård
Xander Berkeley
Glenne Headly
Danny Huston
Kyle MacLachlan

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Technoguy

Saw it on TV as a film so did not experience it on the big screen.There was a solid stock of stars involved: Tripplehorn,Skarsgard,Hayek,Burrows,Hunter and others. The concept was excellent,the technique was experimental: 4 split screens running in real time in one take with no cuts.Although people were speaking simultaneously in different adjacent screens,the sound was stepped up in the one where the story was emphasised. The Hollywood world depicted was shallow and superficial:distraught wives seeking therapy,actresses seeking auditions,lesbians arguing,producers having meetings and discussing ideas for films.Sometimes one screen leaked into a neighbouring screen,or people crossed from one to another.I found it helpful to use subtitling on the TV although they gave you a 5th thing to concentrate on! I thought the story was negligble but couldn't help being taken by the enthusiasm of the project.The trouble with the technique comes when it's more important than the story.Telling a good story is still what it's all about.These actors were allowed to improvise their dialogue around structures and sketches of their characters' situations.Some of it was very banal and redundant: walking,smoking,lying down.Some improvisers were better than others. For this to work you'd need proper scripts to give it substance or more rehearsal time a la Mike Leigh,or say a sci-fi story. As it stands it is a failure but worth a try.