After a six year relationship with Muhammad (Nikhil Melnechuk), Mala (Patricia Gil De Rubio) disappears. Five days later, Muhammad calls the cops and reports her missing. His timing is understandable, however, as their relationship has had an on-again, off-again quality.

Detectives Savvides (Teresa Stephenson) and Miguel (Vern Tremble) don’t necessarily see it that way, however, and in their investigation, Muhammad is the last person to see the missing person, and therefore worth looking into. As their investigation rolls along, Muhammad reflects back on his relationship with the emotionally detached Mala. Eventually, Muhammad decides to start his own investigation, spurred on by a journal of Mala’s that he finds.

The Elegant Clockwork of the Universe is a film that reveals itself slowly. In its way, it’s appropriate to move at an almost glacial pace, as Mala’s detached nature makes her own emotional reveal to Muhammad equally as slow. His memories betray as much as he thinks back on their six year relationship.

Alongside the reveals of the relationship is the investigation by the missing persons unit. Frankly, of the two simultaneous narratives, the investigation is what I was most intrigued with. The mystery of her disappearance is what draws the film forward, as most information about Mala’s past is uncovered by the investigation. Muhammad appears, for most of the film, to be as lost regarding Mala as the audience is, and their scenes together often break down to somewhat loving embraces, sex and conversations that seemingly go nowhere, as Mala stays distant.

Which can make the film an endurance challenge if you’re not engaged. The scenes of Mala and Muhammad become repetitious, revealing little, other than Mala is conflicted about her feelings for Muhammad, she’s trying to keep a wall between them and Muhammad wants that wall to come down. Likewise, as an audience, you want the mystery to be solved, and the answers revealed. Well, if Muhammad is still in the dark after a six year relationship, do you really think an almost two hour film will answer every question you may have, or make itself easy to interpret? Exactly.

So maybe there’s something in The Elegant Clockwork of the Universe, and maybe there isn’t. Frankly, I don’t know what the film was trying to say. I feel that perhaps I could watch it again, but I also don’t honestly know if I have the patience to do so. It’s a quality film, but it’s also as impenetrable, for me, as its character, Mala.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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