Timecode [subtitled]


I saw the five 2016 short films nominated for the Academy Award as a package at the theater. I was pleasantly surprised at just how good they are. Not that I had low expectations of them; I’d say my expectations were moderately high, but they then exceeded even those expectations.

Certainly I didn’t experience any of the five as a dud, but if I had to identify one as the weakest, I’d go with Timecode. And that would be for the same reason I felt that way about Piper relative to the five films nominated for best animated short film, namely that it has less depth, less substance, is less hard-hitting emotionally.

I don’t know that that’s even a fair criticism, in the sense that films like Piper and Timecode aren’t intended as seriously as some of these others. It’s not that they were designed to be deep and failed; they were intended as lighter fare all along. So relative to their purpose, I don’t know that they really are any less successful than the other nominated short films.

But all I can say is that if the package of short films I saw had contained four rather than five films, Timecode is the one I would have least missed.

Anyway, Timecode, a Spanish film, takes place in the parking garage of I think a large apartment building. Diego and Luna are security guards, though they don’t work together. Each works a shift alone, so their only interaction is to exchange a sentence or so each day when one arrives to relieve the other as one shift ends and the next begins.

At least that’s their only direct interaction. Because while watching a playback on one of the security camera monitors one day, Luna discovers that Diego had ventured out into the garage during his shift so that he would be caught on film. She then lets herself be filmed, and so they go back and forth sending “messages” to each other that way.

It’s a cute film, and certainly it made me smile. (The one really funny line—in a film that has very little dialogue—is the one uttered at the very end.) I liked Timecode. I happened to get at least slightly more out of each of the other films nominated in this category, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think Timecode is a nice film worth seeing.

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