Reel Asian Film Fest 2016: ‘THE TIME AGENT’ (2016) Short Film Review
The time travel concept is something that’s seen massive success in movies, both blockbuster and smaller independent projects. So it’s no wonder that the subject has shifted more from a genre, to being a plot device for other, more cerebral stories. One such movie is the South Korean short film ‘The Time Agent’, making its Canadian premiere at the Reel Asian International Film Festival 2016 in Toronto.
Read on for my Spoiler-free Short film Review of ‘The Time Agent’.
The titular character of the film is an Agent in charge of correcting atrocities in the time line. He is tasked with punishing people responsible for terrible crimes, by going back in time with the use of a time machine and wiping those people completely from existence, so they never commit those crimes in the first place. He does this by psychologically (and sometimes humourously) sowing seeds of discontent within married couples to either break them up, or cause them to never have met in the first place, thereby preventing the birth of the would-be criminals in the future.
It’s a wonderful concept, that’s summed up brilliantly within the first few minutes of what is already a short film. The opening sequence of ‘The Time Agent’ is a beautiful montage of the life-span of a relationship between two people from beginning to end, with all the roller coaster of emotions and turmoil that comes with it.
While being a time travel premise,that aspect of the story is simply a plot device for the larger story that deals with patience, isolation and how a mind succumbs to the need of companionship, despite knowing better. Obviously changing the time line means attempting to have minimum impact on anything else in his surroundings. Therefore the Agent (Gwui-Oong Choi) lives a completely isolated lifestyle.
However, one day, his presense has an unintended impact as a young girl’s suicide attempt is interrupted, simply by his making eye contact with her while walking by. Not knowing how to reduce his impact on this action, he allows the girl to stay with him, until he can figure the next course of action.
The story is simple, yet complicated at times. The interaction between the Agent and the young girl known as Yeesul (Young-Hee Jeon) is amazingly sweet, while being brutally heartbreaking at the same time. There are many moments of humour with the story, especially the montage sequences of her accompanying him on his missions. They are coupled with scenes of quiet despair and unknowing, as both character struggle to understand their own actions and feelings. The brief levity definitely makes way for more dire scenes, and the story is better served for it.
‘The Time Agent’ is a unique short that is successful in getting its audiences to completely fall in love with both these characters, who may not be interesting on their own, but are definitely worth watching together.