Author’s Note: This review was originally published on The Horn’s website as a part of its “Streaming Spotlight” series in May 2014
If we could know when we’d meet our soulmate, would love be any easier? TiMER explores this question – and many more – through the story of Oona O’Leary, an L.A. orthodontist looking for love in a world where you can (literally) count down the seconds until it appears in your life.
In the film, a company called TiMER can equip you with a device that will count down to the moment where you meet your significant other. Oona’s timer happens to be blank – meaning that her “one” isn’t equipped with a device yet. After failed dates with everyone but the one, Oona finds herself frustrated, lonely, and increasingly impatient.
After her latest failure in finding “the one,” she meets a checkout boy named Mikey with a timer that doesn’t match up with her own. She’s attracted to him, but hesitant about starting anything at first (Oona finds comfort in the guarantee of the timer and feels like dating other people who aren’t her true love is a waste of time) but eventually, Oona throws caution to the wind and the two start seeing each other.
TiMER is full of the usual romantic comedy tropes we’re all familiar with: boy meets girl, they date, meet the parents, etc. The performances are believable but nothing extraordinary. However, where the movie really succeeds is in how it incorporates sci-fi elements through the timer devices. Timers tend to be kind of like cell phones, with monthly payments and tones that go off when you see your one true love (even the place where they’re installed looks like a cell phone carrier store).
Also, not everyone has a timer. Although they can be installed as soon as you’ve reached puberty there are still a few people who don’t use timers and prefer to not know. Later in the movie, you find out that there are even people who disregard the timer completely and remove them.
It’s these little details that make TiMER an interesting film to watch. Seeing the complexities and the questions that rise because of the devices is fun and fascinating. It definitely gets you thinking and keeps you engaged. It’s these gray areas that make the movie all the more relatable, simply because real life is full of complicated and sometimes messy situations (especially when love is part of the mix).
So, yes, TiMER is a romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist but it’s also a movie about the complexities of the heart – with or without a countdown clock – and that is what makes it more than the usual lighthearted rom-com. TiMER doesn’t just gloss over love but instead, uses the devices of the same name to explore the messy in-between parts. It all goes to show that even when technology makes the search for love more direct, there are still going to be a few bumps along the way.