In a year of Multiverses, there is probably one that you may not have heard of, and that is writer-director Chris Aresco’s Backward Faces. I will do my best to explain it, but it seems that a very smart stoner would be your best bet, and that’s not me. Anyways, here we go…
Sydney (Lennon Sickels) and Ken (Andrew Morra) have just woken up together after a one-night stand. Sydney is a psychology minor, and they both are really into physics. During the awkward morning after, the two somehow discover a multiverse portal… in Ken’s bathroom. Each time one of them goes in there, either time elapses or another version of them comes back out. This is as basic as I can explain the plot. As for how it all works, physics is something that I do not really understand, but Aresco manages to still make it funny to me. Of course, I imagine it’d be even funnier if I did understand what’s going on.
In the first half, Sydney and Ken are trying to wrap their heads around how the two will work out, often referring to how well or poorly their sex was. While figuring this out, the two begin to argue about much more profound things like time and space. This is when Ken reveals that his bathroom links to different points in space-time. This is where the film gets more confusing if you don’t understand all of the physics mumbo jumbo. On a positive note, Sydney and Ken make some jokes that help explain it all, and they do so smartly. However, the mechanics of it all can still be somewhat confusing to those who only know about flux capacitors.
“…the two somehow discover a multiverse portal… in Ken’s bathroom.”
What I like about films like Backwards Faces which are limited in cast and setting (which in this case consists of two actors and one location), is that the bare-bones nature of it all forces the story and acting to be strong enough to hold the viewer’s interest. Sickels and Morra play the main characters and, obviously, the multiple versions of themselves, which isn’t easy to do by any means. But they do a great job at it. Also, thanks to advances in technology, when you have the same actor on the screen at once, it is an easy trick to pull off. But it is a rarity to see when it comes to an independent film, so extra kudos to the production team for reinvigorating that classic trick.
The humor throughout is very Big Bang Theory meets Clerks, two things I love. My favorite moment is when the film gets into some Abbot and Costello-style verbal sparring – think “Who’s on First?” It’s a nice callback to classic comedy that shows appreciation for the icons.
Backward Faces definitely seems like an idea that came about when a stoner looked in a mirror and thought, “what if I’m in a multiverse and my bathroom is a portal?” It may not be for everyone because it is easy to get lost in all of the intellectual lingo, which I found myself doing quite a bit. However, I did enjoy what I understood, even if I did feel a little dumb after it was over.
"…kudos to the production team..."