Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival 2016FilmReview

Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival Review: ‘Displacement’ Is Too Smart For Its Own Good

Erin Graham ‘19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Courtney Hope in Displacement. Photo Credit: Maderfilm Productions.

Watching Displacement is a lot like being the stupidest person doing a group project. A lot of big words are flying around and just when you get half a question out, everyone else has already moved on.

The movie opens like a trailer of itself, flashing and fading between disjointed images of a hotel room, a bathtub, and a mirror, signs of the confusion to come. The film follows—or attempts to follow—the narrative of quantum physics savant Cassie Sinclair (Courtney Hope), a narrator barely able to understand her own story due to chronological memory slips. She’s trapped in the titular displacement anomaly, which is barely explained in the film beyond its initial mention. This temporal conflict haunts her throughout the nonlinear narrative, causing flashes of time travel and elaborate games of hide-and-seek between her past and future self. Characters somehow are equally as knowledgeable about quantum theory will dance in and out of Cassie’s story, more often in references than in actual screen time, adding another layer of mysticism to the already blurry timeline.

Displacement draws strength from its acting, often believable and uncontrived. The writing isn’t awful, but often uses clichés as a crutch, the mantra of “second chances” repeating itself one too many times. Its main problem is the unabashed use of quantum jargon: each and every character in the movie knows an unrealistic amount of quantum physics, allowing characters to have long conversations about temporal lapses, continual loops, and the paradoxes of time travel without ever pausing to explain. You know, casual dinner conversations.

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Sarah Douglas in Displacement. Photo Credit: Maderfilm Productions.

It’s not that the movie should pander to the least knowledgeable viewer, just that it should take time to explain something about the theory it so often alludes to. The confusion detracts from enjoying the aesthetics of the movie—the coloring, the edits, the tense action scenes—which, along with the classic science fiction homages, are the true strengths of the film. The plot, character development, and overall human aspects of the film are lost to the confusing time jumps, allusions to characters that have little or no screen time, and lack of explanation for moments that all the characters seem to understand.

In the last half hour of the film, the story finally seems to gain traction as the temporal holes are filled with tense and emotional moments, generating the most interesting scenes in the film because it finally takes time to explain itself. Though the film ultimately finishes with a bang, it could learn a bit from its narrator and double back through its own timeline to fix such mistakes.

Overall Grade: B-

Check out Emertainment Monthly’s list of future screenings coming up at the 2016 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival.

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