Film reviews

#615 – Flashback (2020)

Flashback (2020)

Film review #615

Director: Christopher MacBride

SYNOPSIS: Fred visits his dying Mother in hospital, and begins to get flashbacks about a girl in high school who mysteriously went missing. As he becomes obsessed with trying to find her and get answers, his past, present and future all start to blend into one, as Fred has to make a choice about his life…

THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Flashback is a 2020 film. The film revolves around Fred, who lives a fairly normal life with his wife, and typical office job. After visiting his Mother in hospital, Fred starts to have flashbacks about a girl named Cindy, who went missing during his high school days. As his flashbacks become more vivid, and his obsession with finding out what happened to Cindy grows, his sense of reality begins to be called into question, as his past, present, future, and their inherent possibilities begin to overlap and be called into question. Flashback is clearly taking inspiration from films such as Donnie Darko, in which the troubled lead either slowly loses his grasp on reality, or is actually getting closer to the truth, depending on how you interpret it. A complex narrative weaves its way through the story that, honestly, I thought was a complete mess. The film goes overboard with its ideas and pushes the questioning of reality to the point where nothing really matters. Trying to hinge everything around the character of Cindy doesn’t really help things either. Whether Fred’s experiences were all just a bad drug trip, aliens that are forcing humans to experience time linearly when they shouldn’t, or just some sort of breakdown at dealing with the death of his Mother, I honestly felt the film didn’t offer enough for a viewer to draw their own conclusions. Maybe it’s a film that requires multiple viewings to really grasp, but it isn’t compelling enough to make me feel like I would ever want to watch it again.

Fred is a fairly normal, uninteresting character: he has a wife, job and all the normal stuff, and I suppose that’s why him being drawn into this bizarre situation is supposed to be more significant. However, I feel giving him a personality or something interesting about him, a personal connection etc. would have made what happens to him more interesting. Given that his past, present, and future are all blended into one, along with the various possibilities that they can take, you get the sense that nothing matters if everything is possible. You could probably make the film work around that, but again, it just doesn’t. It’s like if you took Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, and sucked all the fun out of it. The supporting characters are again fairly uninteresting, and only really exist as comparisons for how far Fred is or isn’t connected to reality.

There are moments where the film does get it right, the ending has an emotional impact, but these aren’t enough to bring the film together. The ending where Fred decides he “can’t follow” Cindy and falls back to his normal linear life is an odd one that doesn’t really feel justified, and makes the whole experience feels pointless. Maybe it’s a message of accepting what you have in the face of all the other possibilities, but this doesn’t feel earned. Overall, Flashback does it’s best as a mid-sized film, but a sense of overambition and inability to engage or entertain in the face of it’s overwhelming possibilities leaves it mostly dull and without consequence, and overshadowed by the films it is clearly inspired by (Donnie Darko, Matrix etc.). Maybe someone can appreciate it, and they apparently do, given that the film’s scores and reviews are not completely awful, but it’s definitely not for me.