What if you knew the exact moment when you were going to meet “the one”? We’re not talking about knowing the name, how you fall in love or where you’ll end up in the end, just the moment your eyes meet with your perfect match. That’s exactly the concept behind Jac Schaeffer’s 2009 film, “TiMER.” Though the idea sounds like a potentially cheesy and average romantic comedy, its presentation of multiple circumstances and the depictions of the reactions to this technology are realistic enough that Schaeffer pulls off a film worth watching.
“TiMER” throws us into an alternate reality where timers have been consensually placed in people’s wrists. These timers start counting down to the day when you meet your one true love, but only if your one true love has a timer, too. This is the main focus of the predicament of our protagonist, Oona, whose timer has been in place since she was young but which still has not started counting down. We are also introduced to her half sister, Steph, whose timer has started counting, and gives her another 40 or so years until she finds “the one.” Then there is Jesse, Oona and Steph’s 12-year-old brother (from a different marriage) who gets the timer installed for the first time and finds that he will meet “the one” in no less than three days.
By juxtaposing three different timer related situations, the film gains more depth than just the goal of finding the perfect person. It deals with the pure human response to new technology and knowledge that has never before been available. For example, the timer makes casual dating extremely complicated. If your timer says that you won’t meet your match for three years, what is the point with going out with someone in the interim?
Steph decides that sex is the point and has endless one-night stands with guys whose timers are about to run out (therefore there is no attachment likely). She seems to have forgone her ambitions as well, working nights at a bar and days at a nursing home, under the impression that her life will not start until she finds the one. Oona, after dating timer-less men and bringing them to get a timer only to find that they are not a match, decides to have a long fling with a much younger man whose timer will run out soon and comes up against the dilemma of falling in love with the “wrong” person. Jesse has to cope with the knowledge that he knows whom he is spending the rest of his life with when it will probably be at least 10 years before he starts his life with this person. How will that affect the relationship that he would have had if he hadn’t known? This is only one of the many questions that are raised due to the complexity of the world in which the film is set.
One of the problems with the film includes the fact that it seems to be structured under the impression that the most important thing to people is finding a partner and settling down. Though there are hints that there are others completely against the timer and those who will never get it, the main characters represent people whose lives revolve around the idea of marriage and a life together with someone and this drives most of the complexities of the plot. It also would have been interesting to see a same-sex couple (though we do get a glimpse at the matchmaking center). If this were something that one of the main characters had to deal with it would have added yet another dimension to this film and answered some questions for the audience.
These problems aren’t big enough to dismiss the film, and because of its likeable characters, complex narrative and realism in the face of an unrealistic concept, this film comes out strong. The twists throughout are unexpected enough to keep you watching and overall it is a successful romantic comedy that leaves you thinking.