Continuum is a difficult film to talk about. At various stages in the narrative, things happen that I would very much like to mention or comment on, but they all seem too spoilerific to really talk about in any great detail. I will do my very best to skirt that fine line between being informative and being a blabbermouth.
Married couple Marika (Gillian Anderson, TV’s The Fall) and Gabriel (Rufus Sewell, The Holiday, A Knight’s Tale) spend their lives researching the most controversial and dark corners of physics. Until one day when everything changed… Catching a flight to deliver a lecture set to change the face of modern science, Gabriel mysteriously disappears, leaving Marika and their son Erol, (Academy Award-nominee Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense) confused and alone with no clues or explanation. Years pass by, until a bizarre discovery throws Marika and Erol’s lives into a new dimension as a glimmer of hope that Gabriel is still alive reveals itself. But in order to try and bring him home, they must risk all they think they know about the universe to change the parameters of reality forever.
Continuum tells the tale of a very ‘sciency’ family who find themselves struggling after the mysterious disappearance of the father, Gabriel (Rufus Sewell). His wife Marika (Gillian Anderson) and son Erol (Haley Joel Osment) are left to deal with the void left in their lives by his sudden absence; each doing this in their own particular way. As the years pass, information relating to what might have happened to Gabriel surfaces through Erol’s grandad Sal (Victor Garber), which causes much inner-turmoil in son Erol.
Continuum is a science-fiction film, but this takes a back-seat to the more human-based drama that unfolds in the lives of people affected by loss. There is certainly an intriguing concept that drives it all forward and causes the issues for everyone but the questions and conflict raised are more interesting than the sci-fi underpinnings. Marika struggles with the reality of her husband’s disappearance and ends up needing medication and therapy to deal with it. This is in stark contrast to son Erol who just prefers not to talk about things. Erol, if anything, is far more concerned about his mother’s health than what really happened to the father. In this vein, there is a particularly good scene in which Marika attempts to talk to Erol about his father, what he remembers of him and how he feels about things. Marika cries silent tears as Erol matter-of-factly relates his impressions, but he becomes annoyed at her craving for answers about what really happened to Gabriel. The whole exchange is very well acted by all involved and just hits the right notes with me. Not every scene in the film was such a winner but that was certainly one of them.
There was one place where I felt the film did a little miss-step however. Without ruining the story, there is an emotive scene that seemed a little rushed. What seemed like a very large moment was consigned to a very short period which was then followed by relatively upbeat music as one of the film’s several “furious scrawling of formulae on a blackboard” scenes took over. It just jarred and felt a little out of pace with everything that had gone before it. While I’m mentioning the score, it’s a classy minimal affair with piano and strings that for the most part, fits the mood of what is happening.
Visually, the film enjoys many scenes bathed in golden sunlight as it streams through windows at the time of day when it might look most beautiful. Other scenes seemed to be filmed at night or in the artificially lit interior of a house or basement. Functional and gets the job done.
As far as the broader narrative, I enjoyed the way that the film set up an uneasy tension between the desire of son Erol to try to put the bad things right, with the counter pressure of how doing so could easily be seen as a rejection of the good things that he still has in his life. The ending was very satisfactory for me and made sense of a few minor things noticed earlier on in the film which I appreciated as a reward for being vigilant and paying full attention.
Continuum is an enjoyable and well-acted science-fiction film that makes more of the human drives and emotions than other, more spectacular films in the genre. I appreciate this and think it should be applauded for that. It has a few missteps and there are some aspects that seem a little throw-away but what is there is well worth viewing.
Continuum is released digitally on 2nd March 2015 and on DVD 9th March 2015.
Reviewer: Casey Douglass