Remember the choose-your-own-adventure books that were really popular when our generation was younger? If you picked the right paths, you would get decent little stories all revolving around the same theme. Attempting to read the book linearly would probably result in an incoherent mess and a headache. Timecode 2000 (Screen Gems), the new directorial effort by Mike Figgis, is a little like those books.The viewers get treated (and the term is used very loosely) to four different stories simultaneously. That’s right. The screen is cut up into quarters, like a windowpane. Dialogue occurs in all four boxes at once, with one section louder than the rest to indicate which the director wants you to watch. The characters in all four of the stories intermingle, and the action all occurs in and around a casting studio for a movie. Sounds like an exciting idea, right? Wrong. Beneath all this fresh novelty, there lies a very mundane script about adultery, with absolutely no new themes to offer on the subject.Figgis does his best to keep the viewer interested. There are a lot of gimmicks going on besides the four-screens-at-once idea. The movie was filmed entirely with handheld cameras, just like The Blair Witch Project. Figgis only wrote a brief story sketch but didn’t write any dialogue. So the actors constantly are improvising.However, none of the above matters, considering the rather boring script. A drunk casting director (Stellan Skarsgard, Good Will Hunting) is cheating on his wife (Saffron Burrows, Deep Blue Sea) with a young woman who is attempting to break into show business (Salma Hayek, Fools Rush In). She also is cheating – on her gay lover (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Waterworld). The repercussions of the characters’ actions are the main focus of the plot. Regardless of how exciting the structure of the film is, if the aforementioned plot doesn’t thrill you, don’t waste your time on Timecode 2000. A film, like any other piece of performance art, is judged by the integration of its individual parts. An incredible acting performance may not be able to save an otherwise mediocre film. Without the credibility of a decent script (the fact that no dialogue was written definitely shows) all of Figgis’ experiments do not make his new film a good one.If the four screens in Timecode 2000 were to merge into one, there would be nothing memorable about this film. In fact, it would be on the level of a made-for-television movie or a film that heads straight to the video store. Nonetheless, midway through the film you will probably wish that the sections would merge. The viewers’ eyes may get tired of constantly moving throughout the duration of the film. The movie, despite being about 85 minutes long, seems double that. From a pure aesthetic context, Figgis’ technique of four screens works fine with headshots, but full body scenes with movement seem a bit cramped.Unless you’re a diehard lover of the director or any of the actors in Timecode 2000, it’s a safe bet to wait until it arrives on video. It’s worth seeing Figgis experiment for three dollars but not for the full cinematic price.
Timecode 2000 is playing in theaters.