Parallel is a confident debut English language film from Isaac Ezban that takes the premise of accessing an alternate universe and runs with it to morally complex results. Filled with a raft of well thought of themes the film does begin to get muddled in the middle act. Yet the middle, the central premise keeps you entertained, and with four strong performances, this is a winner of a high concept science fiction film.
As a close-knit group of app designer friends stumble upon a portal to the multiverse, they come to terms with this life-changing discovery; they’re soon playing with fate as they use the knowledge to influence their lives and fortunes. But, as they push the limits of possibility, the stakes get higher and higher with dangerous consequences. Will they become victims of their success?
As we are brought in with the prologue of Parallel, we are quickly shown what kind of film we are in for, and it never lets go of that mysterious and ominous nature until the credits roll. As our frustrated gang find an attic with the mysterious mirror. We are up and running with an excellent film from director Isaac Ezban. Much like Synchronic, we are presented with a complex idea but told to audiences in the simplest and best manner possible. The ability to go into the alternate universe could bog a film down, so the fact that Parallel is able to take such an idea in its stride is very commendable. Ezban’s visuals accentuate this, it all makes sense, and you are never lost. For a high concept science fiction film, this is an underrated and vital achievement.
Crossing through multiple themes, Parallel opens itself up greatly. Moral questioning on what you would do with the power to go into an alternative universe is raised. Do you cause a butterfly effect in that other world to your other version? Should you contact said version. There is a struggle to keep on top of it all (we will get into that in a bit).
Clever touches by Ezban and his cinematographer Karim Hussain have us aware that when we are in that other universe, we have a warm tint to the world in the regular universe. Yet, in that alternative version, a blue hue fills the screen—couple this with a blurry mirror effect. We can keep on top of who is where again another touch assists with doing Parallel work so well. Everything looks very polished in the film, especially when Noel brings more advanced technological devices to the current universe.
All bar Aml Ameen’s Devin decides to take advantage of this new power, be it to find new technologies to profit from by Martin Wallström’s Noel, who tries to make himself a mixture of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, or Georgie King’s Leena. She desperately wants to be a successful artist after a previous gallery failure that she takes to steal ideas and work from other artists. Then we have Mark O’Brien’s Josh, who, instead of trying to further his career, tries to think of how to profit off lotteries and then by getting women, his normal self would have no chance with due to his sudden influx of financial gains to devastating consequences.
With Devin staying as the moral compass, we have at least one character to cling onto here, which is vital to Parallel’s success. If all of the characters venture down a less than desirable road, we only have hope that karma gets them. By having Devan care more about meeting his deceased father again, we can feel for him. He isn’t sure of taking this unfair advantage. He just wants to talk to his father that he lost at a young age again. You can feel and understand that. That emotional pull is where the film comes out strong, and in a different setting, it would have been wonderful to have seen more of that side.
But, unfortunately, when the group has to make a daunting decision, the emotional consequences never truly take time to think about how that would affect them and the person they have done it to. So when we see the strain and confusion on that character as they try to adjust to this change. It brings you in as an audience, you wonder where it could go. Lots of questions begin to get asked that Parallel cannot answer given it’s more central plotline.
The feeling that two ideas were melded together stays with you. You are invested in both, of course, as you want to see how far down the rabbit hole that Noel has gone. But those more emotional subplots are so strong that you connect just as well with them. Of course, this is all down to Scott Blaszak’s writing, that he can give us such strong subplots. Yet by keeping both as front and centre as he does, we lose out on both having as satisfactory a conclusion. Thus, bringing a slight whiff of disappointment to what is a very solid film.
Having the film set around tech entrepreneurs allows for a lot of room. However, it struggles because it moves so fast from when the group utilises that unfair advantage to where they go next. It would have strengthened the film to see more success at a slower rate with each of the group. Instead, it fast forwards through at a breakneck pace, and for a movie that is as patient as it was in that first act, that just doesn’t mesh as well as it should. Despite this, Blaszak’s script works very well, and by giving us ample time with each character, we get to form some connection with them.
With a range of motivations, once they enter the mirror, the audience is allowed plenty of time to figure out what they would do in a similar position. The main group of four do very well here, with Wallström seemingly having a ball playing it up as the power and fame-hungry Noel. All are given plenty to do, and as they have such differing storylines, they all get their moments to shine.
Parallel is a strong film from both director Ezban and writer Blaszak with far more positives than negatives. A film that you should catch as soon as you can. Goodness knows it has waited long enough to get to us.
Parallel DVD Competition
To celebrate the release of Parallel, we have a nice shiny DVD (Region 2) to give away!
The competition will run until Monday 21st June midnight and all you have to do is answer this simple, simple question.
Remember this is a Region 2 disc. The winner will be contacted on Tuesday 22nd June. Good luck!
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