Directed by Carl Bessai
Starring Dustin Milligan, Amanda Crew, Richard de Klerk, Alexia Fast, Gabrielle Rose
Originally Released: September 13, 2010
Repeaters is an interesting indie Canadian film dealing with the subject of a time loop, delving into a science fiction realm that touches on a multitude of elements that pivot upon individual choices. Directed by Carl Bessai, the movie is entertaining, with some notable performances (particularly from Alexia Fast) – but the film suffers from the inevitable comparisons to Groundhog Day.
Essentially, the plot of Repeaters focuses on three individuals: Kyle Halsted (Dustin Milligan), Sonia Logan (Amanda Crew), and Michael Weeks (Richard de Klerk). All are recovering drug addicts, remanded into custody in a rehab clinic somewhere in Canada. As they make slow progress, the young former addicts are allowed day passes – but something undefined causes the three of them to live the same day over and over again.
Hence, the Groundhog Day comparison – yet, what sets Repeaters aside from this is its serious and gritty tone. While Groundhog Day was a family-friendly comedic journey into moral choices, Repeaters is a much darker look at the potential choices we as individuals could make if placed in the same scenario.
Despite the difference, the inevitable comparison with the Bill Murray classic is perhaps what hurts the movie the most. As elements progress in the story, the key factors pertaining to choice are mirrored significantly in Repeaters. There are new and darker aspects, sure, but when you deconstruct it to its source, it is essentially a serious Groundhog Day in Canada… just with drugs and guns…
The performances do help in the delivery of Repeaters though. Our lead protagonist, Milligan, fares reasonably well on-screen, with a tendency to put forth his best work in dramatic overly tense moments that cause his character notable emotional distress. Amanda Crew does a wonderful job as Sonia – though must have had some difficulty with being delegated to an almost stereotypical role of the female junkie who is an addict because of sexual abuse from her parents. It’s an archetype that has been used too many times, though Crew does her best to stand out.
Richard de Klerk, on the other hand, is intriguing. Of all the characters, his develops the most, on a journey going from friend and ally to antagonist and nemesis. His explosive impulsiveness comes across shockingly well on-screen, and de Klerk must have put a lot of effort into the wide array of emotional expressions his character journeys through. His stance and look in the film also remind me of a young Perry Farrell – so much so that he could pull off a biopic of the Jane’s Addiction frontman if it ever came to be.
Yet from behind the lead actors, it is supporting actress Alexia Fast who sweeps the floor with them in my opinion. Playing the role of angry and confused Charlotte Halsted, younger sister of our leading man, Fast’s performance is the mortar that keeps the film together – her acting is pivotal to our main character’s journey.
While not on-screen as much as the lead performers, she has a focal point aura as soon as she is in shot, drawing the viewers’ attention to her immediately. It isn’t as memorable as her work in Triple Dog, but notable enough to realize we can hopefully expect some bigger things from this wonderful young acting talent in years to come.
There is symbolism within the context of the film – especially in relation to the death experiences (not necessarily a spoiler) of the main characters during the film. Unfortunately, the long overplayed symbolism of moral choices eclipses this and many minor symbolic aspects of the story. At the basis of the storyline is an analogy for drug addiction, which could have been a significant and successful element of the tale, though this is eclipsed by the “moral choices” dilemma. While important, this subtracts from time that could have been devoted to developing many of the other analogies and expressions – many of which could have become great strengths of the movie overall.
Being a time travel geek, Doctor Who fan, and enthusiast of movies such as Triangle and Donnie Darko, I had some high hopes for Repeaters. And while, yes, it is entertaining and the performances are magnetic, the entire story breaks down into a quite literal (though serious) repeat of Groundhog Day.
On that note though, it is worth a view, specifically for some of the performances in the movie; and especially if you’re more into darker and grittier films. I can’t say that it’s an immediate must-see, but it’s certainly worth adding to your instant queue.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5