The Time Being
The Time Being, Nenad Cicin-Sain’s filmmaking debut starring Frank Langella, is the story of Daniel (Wes Bentley), a struggling painter who finds unusual work with a mysterious benefactor.
The great Billy Wilder once said: “Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go”, referring to a film’s need to grasp the audience’s attention. Considering that requirement, The Time Being is an armless sissy that would struggle to get noticed even if popped inside a ticking holdall and hidden beneath David Cameron’s Cyril Sneer silky bed sheets.
Saturated in eye-singeing portentous artistic dribble, its blandness is tantamount to sucking a marble. A contrived narrative, empty characters and an anaemic philosophy work seamlessly to create a shapeless vacuum with no relevance. On top of this, the film’s contrived crux – the disadvantages of living with a struggling artist – carries absolutely no weight, considering the protagonist’s spacious studio and well-furnished apartment.
Langella as the cantankerous eccentric is entirely undeserved, while Bentley would look stiff standing next to a drainpipe. It can only be the result of desultory direction that Bentley, good enough to be cast in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar, delivers such a monotone performance. Despite its attempt to achieve subtly and profundity, the script is on-the-nose and obvious. Too often we’re led along empty scenes full of redundant dialogue, thinly concealed behind an overtly manipulative musical score and broody posturing, leaving us bored and desperate for an escape.
Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr provides a peak, doing a good job capturing atmospheric and pertinent shots, while nailing the film’s overall tone with some excellent lighting. Malaimare, whose previous work includes The Master, deserves much credit for wrapping this shoddy production in such a beautiful cloak.
So devoid of substance is The Time Being that you could swap the first and third acts around and the film’s significance wouldn’t alter. In fact, cutting out the entire middle of the film and pasting it into a new folder, cleverly renamed “McIntyre stand-up” as to protect anyone you care about from ever watching it, would dramatically improve the whole piece.
The Time Being is released nationwide on 1st September 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Time Being here: