Movies · Reviews

‘Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes’ is the Year’s Most Ingeniously Constructed Film

Seventy minutes of utter brilliance.
The cast of Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes
Indiecan Entertainment
By  · Published on August 12th, 2021

This review of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is part of our coverage of the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival.

Science fiction, as a genre, is as broad and open as the stars above are gaseous and plentiful. From big action spectacles (Edge of Tomorrow, 2014) to indie puzzle boxes (Primer, 2004), there are gems at both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes belongs in that latter camp, and while too many movies aren’t quite as smart as they believe themselves to be, this intricate and immensely satisfying film is even more brilliant than it needs to be.

Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is a simple man with an uncomplicated life. He owns and runs a small cafe, and he lives in an apartment right above. Things take a turn when closes up shop, heads upstairs, and is greeted by a face on the monitor connected to the one down in the cafe — it’s his own face, and he’s claiming to be speaking from two minutes into the future. A brief dialogue exchange commences, and then Kato heads downstairs to the monitor and talks to himself from two minutes ago. Soon others are sucked into the time-bending mystery, but the more they push and pull at the fringes the more out of control it becomes.

“It’s like science fiction,” says a character in the absolutely ingenious Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, and while they’re correct it’s also so much more. Credit goes to writer Makoto Ueda‘s deceptively labyrinthine script, but just as integral is direction by Junta Yamaguchi that succeeds in capturing the serpentine nature of a film moving forward while also twisting in on itself. It shouldn’t work, but it does, even if you’ll be wondering just how they pulled the damn thing off.

And did I mention that the filmmakers made it even more difficult for themselves by shooting the movie in the form of one single take complete with hidden (and not so hidden) edits?

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes follows Kato and others as they move between the cafe and apartment, and by its very nature we’re seeing the same events play out twice each time. Characters interact with themselves or others on the monitor and then we see them move to the “future” and repeat the other half of the exchange. It’s a process that by all accounts should feel repetitive or laborious, but it never does as the filmmakers and cast keep things feeling fresh and electric.

There’s a real sense of wonder and awe at the discovery, but the characters quickly grow immune to the charms of a two-minute time loop and decide to see how far they can push its reach. Like the rest of the film, their efforts showcase smart writing that offers just enough explanation to keep things tight while also opening up new, unstable possibilities. No spoilers here, but as things tend to do when humans are involved, their glimpse into the future spins beyond their control with fascinating and often hilarious results.

It’s something you don’t necessarily expect in a science fiction film, but Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is also very, very funny. A whip smart script is the start, but it’s the cast that jumps with both feet into the absurdity of it all with expert comic delivery and some wonderfully exaggerated performances from Gôta Ishida, Aki Asakura, Riko Fujitani, and others. It’s not broad, exactly, but they’re instead taking part in a very Japanese style of comedic acting, and it works to make their joy your own — you will smile, laugh, and cheer them on as they figure things out and are delighted by what happens next. It’s perhaps a minor thing in the face of the script’s intelligence, but these characters, these friends, are so endlessly contagious in their enthusiasm and delight that you’ll wish you were part of their circle.

The humor is paired with some deeper thoughts, though, and while the themes aren’t ultimately anything new there’s a uniqueness to their delivery here. Seeing the future, even two minutes forward, leads the friends to feel compelled to match that expectation. They grow “scared of contradicting” what they’ve seen, and they’re pressured into choices they don’t always want to make. As the future’s hold tightens, we also see characters held in place by actions from the past, and it highlights a vice grip that too many of us find ourselves in — hindered by the past, fearful of the future, and frozen in place.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a warm, funny, and smart slice of science fiction. It’s a time travel story about today that recognizes just how important the now really is in relation to what’s past and what’s yet to be. Read nothing else about the film, and seek this one out. It’s seventy minutes of your life you won’t look back on with regret. (And be sure to stay through the end credits as behind the scenes footage reveals the magic of how they shot much of it.)

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.