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By Brad Slager | March 5, 2003

This is a short that tries to explore the theme of how our actions reverberate over time and how slight changes in those actions can have deep ramifications on not just our lives but on those we encounter along the way. Movies are a great dramatic medium for this type of exploration because we can be served instant results from those changes in a very tangible format. That is if it gets used properly.
“Irreparable” suffers from a shortsighted use of this premise. We get shown a scenario that leads to the main character ruminating over whether or not he should have acted differently, and then we briefly explore what would have transpired following the various options that he could have been chosen. This could have been fertile ground for almost limitless areas in which the plot could have rooted itself, but instead we get a rather pedestrian journey.
Things are centered on Nick, a young urbanite with a girlfriend and a best buddy, Raul, who runs a skate shop and is in trouble for money owed. As Nick goes through his daily routine he is confronted with an incensed road-rager, but their confrontation ends incident free. As he rides to work Nick becomes consumed with thoughts of whether or not he should have stood up for himself and engaged the sociopath more earnestly.
This takes us to witnessing how events might have transpired if he behaved differently. One scenario finds Nick provoking the menace to get out of his car and Nick getting in position to jump behind the wheel and speed away. This is a flight of fancy and also that is all that is offered in this particular sub-plot. Another opportunity involves an attractive woman and how their encounter with the rogue brings she and Nick together in conversation, after which they make plans to meet that night.
One reason there is difficulty getting involved in the story and its scenarios is that we never get to learn about the players on screen. A voice-over only gives us brief explanations about the individuals that amounted to no more than thumbnail sketches–for some reason the press materials gave more in depth information on the characters and their personalities. Had we known more about these people and their possible decisions it would have been more compelling.
In the end however we get to watch as the result of Nick’s inactivity plays itself out to a too-convenient resolution for Raul and leads to a happy ending for all. This becomes an unsatisfying result to a premise that could have explored numerous captivating avenues.
While the story’s foundation of wondering “What if I had only…?” did have merit it was hurt by the limited focus. The buildup of the many possibilities gets undercut and instead leaves us with the pat “Don’t worry, be happy” conclusion.

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