It takes a little time to unravel the complex thriller ‘Primer’

Don’t worry if you don’t understand what’s going on in the dramatic thriller “Primer,” which opens Friday at the Nuart Theatre. With cryptic dialogue such as “Are you hungry? I haven’t eaten since later this afternoon,” the film is a Rubik’s Cube of a puzzle.

Just as with “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Memento” or practically any David Lynch movie, “Primer” demands that it be seen again and again to make sense of the plot.

“Primer” was sort of the Cinderella story at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it was the surprise winner of the Grand Jury Prize. Shot for a meager $7,000 on 16mm and then blown up to 35mm, “Primer” was made by a 31-year-old former engineer, Shane Carruth. Not only did he direct the taut little 78-minute chiller, he wrote it, composed the music, did the cinematography and editing and even took on the leading role. Most of the cast also doubled as crew members.

As for the plot....

Engineers Aaron (Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) work during the evenings on various science projects in Aaron’s garage. They discover that one of their latest devices turns out to be a time-travel device.

The two see the box as a failsafe way to play the stock market and decide to use it themselves. To make matters even more intriguing -- and complicated -- Aaron and Abe create a double of themselves every time they use the box. Unfortunately for them, the doubles have a mind of their own and also know how to make their own sets of doubles.


Or do they?


-- Susan King