Fantastic Fest Review: Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes

Tricky time comedy is a low-budget delight

The classic time loop film is so simple that the only variation is in trying to find new ways for those trapped within to react. But Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is not the traditional time loop movie.

Rather than cafe owner Koji (Kazunari Tosa) doing the same thing time and again, he's only doing it twice. There's now Koji and two minutes in the future Koji. Rather than repetition, this is like reverb, and it's why Makoto Ueda's script is such a delightful addition to a worn-out genre of chrono-comedy.

Probably best known to western audiences as the writer of quirky, charming anime like The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl and Penguin Highway, this time Ueda pulls his focus in to Koji's diner, and the ever-expanding number of people he pulls in to his bafflement.

The trick is very simple: future Koji communicates from his cafe's computer with past Koji, who is sat in front of a screen in his upstairs apartment. Then he has to run down and deliver the other side of the conversation from down below, repeat, repeat, repeat. It's this doubled-up drama, interrupted only by Koji and his friends running up and down a flight of stairs. That director Junta Yamaguchi keeps that interesting is one challenge that he pulls off. That he does the entire tricky shtick as a single shot, that's astonishing. That he pulls it off with an ensemble cast is just astonishing, and a testament to every actor that they manage these astounding dialogues with themselves. Stick around through the closing credits to see exactly how they managed all those repetitions: zero effects, just a lot of really committed performers.

Under its silliness, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes may actually be one of the most rigorously-plotted time travel movies since Primer (still arguably the most watertight temporal tale ever committed to cinema). Yet it doesn't put the logic of the situation first: instead, it leans into the paradoxes and confusion, relying mostly on the light comedy to draw the audience along. Koji's friends are all amiable doofuses who use their strange new situation for trivial and trite things. After all, how much trouble can you get into if you can only see two minutes into the future? Well, a surprising amount, but really this becomes a testament to what can be done with a small team and a really smart idea executed with heart. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes may well be the most endearing film since the equally ambitious and innocuous Last Cut of the Dead, and it's just as heartwarming.


Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
US premiere
Thursday. Sept. 30, 9pm at Alamo South Lamar
Available on FF@HOME Sept. 30-Oct. 11.

Fantastic Fest 2021, Sept. 23-30. Tickets and info at fantasticfest.com. Follow all our coverage at austinchronicle.com/fantasticfest.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Fantastic Fest, Fantastic Fest 2021, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes

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