• Film reviews

    #592 – Press Play (2022)

    Press Play (2022)

    Film review #592

    Director: Greg Björkman

    SYNOPSIS: After her partner dies in an accident, Laura learns that the mixtape they made together can transport her back in time, giving her a chance to save him. But things quickly become more complicated than they first seem…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Press Play is a 2022 sci-fi romance film. Laura is set up with her friend’s brother Harrison, from which a romance blossoms. Things come to a tragic end when Harrison dies in an accident, but Laura (some four years later) finds that the mixtape they made together can transport her back to specific points of time relevant to each song on the tape. She uses this chance to go back and try to save his life, but every time she intervenes it creates another problem. We see the from the start how the two meet and their relationship develop, but the main issue of the film quickly emerges from this: One, we are only shown the key events in their relationship one after another, squeezed into the first twenty minutes, which just feels like you’re moving from one moment in time to another without any real connection, and no time or space or a relationship or onscreen chemistry to develop organically. As such, there’s a lack of investment in the relationship and characters, and everything is a little fragmented. I get that it is partly this way because it has to reflect the mixtape of having songs that are part of important parts of their relationship, but without something to bring them together, it just flat out doesn’t work. The concept of the time travelling mixtape is interesting, but very much underutilised and underexplored. There’s a part where Laura decides to read up on the theory of time travel (as you do), but nothing really comes of it, and it doesn’t add anything to the plot. Keeping the mechanics of time travel relatively light might be so as to not alienate the viewers are there for the romance genre, as nothing is as offputting as being overwhelmed by technical jargon. As mentioned though, the romance element is severely underdeveloped as well. The acting isn’t the problem on the whole, and Clara Rugaard as Laura does a good job. Lewis Pullman as Harrison really doesn’t convince with the more emotional moments though, and always feels like he is just acting. Whether it is him, or the direction he is given, he just doesn’t portray quite the right emotion.

    For a film that relies quite a lot on music, the soundtrack on the whole is fairly bland and forgettable. They never really discuss (apart from the first song) who the band playing are, or what the song really means; it just happens to be playing by coincidence at certain times. It is perhaps inescapable to compare to a film like Hi Fidelity, which also had the concept of music and relationships at its core, but that film allowed the viewer to build up a picture of the main character based on his music interests, using familiar songs. In Press Play, we have artists and songs you’ve probably never heard, and which sound all a bit too familiar. The lyrics of the songs almost always just verbalise what is happening in the film at that moment, leaving little room for interpretation, and it all just feels a bit on the nose. Also, I can’t help but notice a few elements borrowed from the Life is Strange video game, including the time travel, the indie soundtrack, and even the credits using a very similar font and animation. I’m not the only person that sees this apparently either. I don’t think Press Play is meant to be an emotionally heavy film, but it really does keep everything light in all regards: the onscreen chemistry between the actors is not there, the relationship lacks depth, there’s no real humour to break things up, and the science-fiction element isn’t grappled with to give the film a novel twist.