Directed by Hugh Sullivan
Starring Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, Alex Dimitriades
Paradoxes, predestination and good, old-fashioned emotional insecurity collide in this debut feature from Australian writer/director, Hugh Sullivan.
Dean (Josh McConville) and Lana (Hannah Marshall) have a truly disastrous anniversary date. Not only is the quaint little resort where they stayed a year ago now a rundown derelict, but Dean’s complete overreaction to seeing his plans of constructing the perfect weekend crumble results in Lana leaving with her old flame, the oafish Terry (Alex Dimitriades).
No worries, though; Dean dabbles in weird science, and a year after the disastrous date, he’s convinced the now estranged Lana to travel back in time to that fateful day to try and set things aright. The thing is, Dean is such a neurotic, micromanaging mess of a man, he tries to course-correct more than once, leading to multiple Deans, multiple Lanas and even multiples Terries, all with their own agendas, running around the abandoned motel.
Sullivan smartly uses time travel tropes to construct a character study of the well-meaning but blinkered Dean, a guy who thinks he can fix everything if given the chance, but fails to recognise that what’s broken is inside him. Sullivan’s intricate script literally allows Dean to confront himself – albeit different versions of himself from different points in his life – in order to dissect notions of insecurity, jealousy and wounded masculinity. If Dean is difficult to empathise with at times, it is largely because some of his destructive behaviours and neediness are a little too close to the bone.
Sullivan’s astute characterisation of Dean doesn’t extend to the other two participants in this three-hander, unfortunately. Both Marshall and Dimitriades do good work with what they’re given, but Lana is essentially the film’s McGuffin, while Terry functions as both antagonist and comic relief – his motives are so oblique that at times he’s a walking non sequitur. Perhaps it was a sacrifice necessary in service to both the film’s focus on Dean’s internal processes and its brisk running time (under 90 minutes) but it does feel like there was a missed opportunity or two.
Still, The Infinite Man remains a fine, fun, clever riff on both relationship comedies and time travel stories. It’s a small-scale film – deliberately so – but its narrative ambitions belie its financial and spatial constraints. Anyone who appreciates thoughtful, arch comedy and clever writing will find something to enjoy in Sullivan’s closed loop.