New Sci-Fi Releases: Curvature (2018) - Reviewed

Curvature is a twisty science fiction drama with some really clever ideas and a solid lead performance that maybe ends up being just a little bit too smart for its own good. It certainly kept me guessing and I liked the ending, but there are a bunch of red herrings that make the middle section frustrating. I enjoyed it overall, however I cannot help but feel that too many attempted surprises hold this one back from being something really good. ​

The film follows Helen (Lyndsy Fonseca, who co-starred on the CW series Nikita) who, as the story begins, is despondent over the death of her husband, Wells (Noah Bean, also a regular on Nikita). They are both engineers and Wells, along with his partner, Tomas (recognizable character actor Glenn Morshower), had been experimenting with the possibility of time travel. One day, Helen receives a mysterious phone call telling her to run. Moments later, someone breaks into her house. This sets her off on a quest to figure out what is really going on in her life. 

​I am being deliberately vague in my plot description because part of the enjoyment comes from guessing along with the characters. The screenplay, by Brian DeLeeuw, presents itself as a routine genre picture, but it is actually smarter than that. It misdirects you into thinking you are a step ahead of it. There are a couple of twists that legitimately surprised me. The problem is that some of those directions turn out to be totally unnecessary, thus dragging the film down a bit. But the opening and closing sections of the movie are quite good, setting up some interesting questions and paying most of them off in a satisfying way. It has been well-paced by director Diego Hallivis, who treats the dramatic material seriously and never allows it to completely turn into an action/adventure film. I certainly cannot fault Curvature for a lack of effort. ​

It is helped a little bit by a steady starring turn from Lyndsy Fonseca. It would have been very easy, and tempting, for her to overplay considering all the crazy revelations Helen makes during the story. But she stays just level-headed enough that both her risky decisions and her more science-based moments are believable. She does not play this like an action heroine. She plays it like a woman who just lost her husband and is thrust into something she does not understand, but who is smart enough to figure it out as she goes along. That grounds the film and makes her character more relatable. ​

Curvature is a pretty good film that becomes a little too distracted to reach that next level. I had fun with it for the most part, but was left disappointed. There are too many characters with not much to do. Tomas’ partner, Kravitz (Alex Lanipekun), and Helen’s friend, Alex (Zach Avery), are just there to give those characters someone to talk to as well as setup a couple extra plot threads that do not lead anywhere. And while it is always nice to see Linda Hamilton (yup, Sarah Connor), who shows up as a scientist, it would have been even nicer if she had anything to do. But it is refreshing to see a science fiction film that is actually interested in using its concept to tell a story instead of as a clothesline to hang action scenes from. And, though it is not always entirely successful, that attempt alone makes this worth checking out. 

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-Ben Pivoz