Saturday, 19 September 2015

Film: Frequencies (2013)

I picked up a recommendation for this one from somewhere but couldn't recall what kind of story it was, so I watched Frequencies (also known as OXV: The Manual) without any expectations – and was rewarded with one of the most unusual, intriguing and enjoyable films I've seen in a long while.

It is set in an alternative world which differs from ours in that people are recognised as emitting different frequencies: the higher their frequency, the more in tune with nature they are. This not only has a direct bearing on intelligence but also on good luck; nature "works" to help those with high frequencies, so the highest of them can walk blindly across a busy road without getting hit, turn up at a station and never miss a train, find some money just when they need it, and so on. Furthermore, very high and very low frequency people can't mix for more than a minute, or unfortunate accidents start to befall the low-frequency person. This sounds crazy, but bear with me…

The film follows a group of young people with various frequency levels as they progress through junior and high school to university (three sets of actors are used). They are all extremely intelligent by normal standards and are taught in a special school, but some are more equal than others. The particular focus is on Zak, whose frequency is so low that he only just qualifies for the school, and Marie, the girl of his dreams who has the highest frequency on record but is an emotionless genius known as "the Machine". Zak's many attempts to get closer to her all fail until one of his friends, Theo, finds a way of temporarily boosting his frequency, to the benefit of Zak's romantic aspirations. The problem emerges that this method can be used for much more nefarious purposes, and raises the fundamental question of the strength of free will versus fate. The government gets involved and there is a scramble to try to find an antidote.

Frequencies is light-hearted and amusing, with the virtually unknown cast performing well. It has an unusual structure as well as theme, with the same scenes shown from the viewpoints of different characters, and it has a teaser of an ending. The writer/director/producer is Darren Paul Fisher, a Brit who is currently a lecturer at Australia's Bond University.  The film received excellent reviews, unlike his two previous efforts, Inbetweeners and Popcorn. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

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