Time Freak tells a story as old as time – a geeky, hyper intelligent young man loses his beautiful girlfriend and struggles to find ways to win her back. The difference in Andrew Bowler’s film? The scientific savant uses time travel to try and change the outcome of their breakup, often to hilarious results.
Starring Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner and Enders Game’s Asa Butterfield, with the hilarious Skyler Gisondo, the film follows Stillman’s (Butterfield) attempts to re-do moments prior to his break-up with Debbie (Turner), with his best pal, Evan (Gisondo), along for the ride. Full of laughs, often thanks to Gisondo, the film bounces back and forth between “presents,” as Stillman finds it’s harder to change the past than work forward in the present. Bowler says the metaphysical and the entertainment sides of the film are mutually beneficial, and can’t be separated from the other.
“It’s absolutely the deeper questions that draw me back to the computer,” the writer shared. “Why am i doing this? But it’s also entertainment. Was it the deep the questions or the fun that draw you in? It’s hard to tell sometimes.”
Bowler recognizes that the sci-fi genre allows him to ask some questions and make statements that others might not receive if they were shared in a different way. “I feel great about what we were able to do in the sci-fi genre in Time Freak,” he explained. “I ‘d love to explore something relevant about today and the world we live in, about how we need more love and more compassion, putting it in a sci-fi drama. No one comes to a movie to hear me preach, so if I can get meaning through the movie to share with my fellow man, then I want to do that. That has to be done in a vessel that they’ll come and watch.”
“Sci-fi is the safest way to speak to people. They enjoy themselves and the story doesn’t shake away. I call it “The Shower Effect”: when they can’t leave the idea they were laughing about it. If anyone goes to see Time Freak and then is thinking about it the next morning in the shower, then I’ll have succeeded.”
Since 2012, Bowler and his wife have been working on Time Freak. What started as a short film about time travel and regret has turned into something deeper in the longer form, an exploration of what relationships look like. “I think time travel and regret have been part of my creative life since 2012,” the director admitted. “I don’t know if it started with regret. I regret a lot of things every day but working through the project has made me see that life is a thousand heartaches and a thousand joys, picking which ones go which way are not up to me. We make movies because about time travel because it allows us to explore that.”
While the film is tagged as a movie about a guy and his best friend who go back in time to rescue a relationship, the film allows Turner to play a wider scope of emotions than she does in Game of Thrones. “It was intentional that the women are stronger characters,” Bowler continued. “It was important to make Debbie a fleshed out character with her own journey.”
Time Freak is one of those rare indie movies that shines beyond its budget or expected scope. It’s thanks to the script, the attention to detail in direction and cinematography, and the acting that the package of the film is greater than the sum of its parts. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking about the film the next day in the shower.
Time Freak debuts on November 9 with a limited release in theaters and On Demand.