In Time – A Must See Movie For Those Interested In Social Issues
Posted by Xena
Time is money.
Time is power.
Time is life.
I’m not a professional movie reviewer. I just love movies and because of a class in college, I like getting into the heads of directors. Is this a movie just for entertainment purposes, or are they showing us something deeper? Is the focus on the characters or the message? What about the script? Does it tell, or does the director expect for the audience to understand deeper messages by showing rather than telling?
The movie In Time is one I just saw and want to watch again. Released in 2011, I somehow missed it. It is now being shown on FXM.
The message is deeper than the characters, although we need to watch the characters to understand the impact of the message.
In Time has taken everything about society and turned it into life expectancy that is issued out by unknown powers. The movie doesn’t tell us how it started, but at the end it gives us a glimpse of how it loses control and the people take control.
The movie takes place in a dystopian future when humans are bioengineered. They stop physically aging at 25 years. When they reach age 25, their clocks come on. They are given 12 months of time. Those 12 months however, are reduced or increased because time has replaced money. In other words, it’s not a matter of living for the next 12 months preparing to die because time is also used to pay for basic living expenses; rent, food, utilities. Because the clock is always ticking down, getting back 12 months of time is impossible for the working class because whatever they earn, they spend on living expenses. Then too, they have to sleep. While sleeping, their clocks tick down.
Everyone has a clock or timer that is embedded in their forearm. To pay for something, just swipe the arm. To give time to or take time from another, touch your forearm to the forearm of the other person or join hands.
There is also a carrying device for giving or taking time when applied to the forearm. Anyone with one can use it, and children can use it for donations of a minute here and there so when they turn 25 years old, they have some extra time. It is also an important accessory for orphans so they can eat after their parents have run out of time.
The poor who work are paid in time, but their wages/time are just enough to get them through another day. The employer that owns the company that makes the devices also controls rate quotas. Rate quotas go up on the same day that bus fares and the cost of food goes up.
The poor run – a lot! They run to get things done because their clocks are ticking down. They are addicted to life — needing time on their clocks to live and spending every moment looking for the next fix – time.
They pay bus fares that cost 2 hours of time. They cannot afford cars, which cost as much as 59 years of time plus taxes. If they take out a pay-day loan, the interest rates are three times the amount of time that they borrowed. Toll fees cost up to 1 year, so there is never hope of having enough time to commute, much less pay, the tolls to enter another time zone hoping for a better paying job.
Charities no longer give out food or clothing. They give out time.
There is another group that lives much differently than those in the poor time zone, which in the movie, the rich refer to the poor area as the “ghetto”. Those in the ghetto refer to other areas as “time zones.” The rich have access to unlimited time.
The rich drive sports cars, eat dinner out and give 5 years of time as tips to wait-staff. They have families consisting of spouses, in-laws and children.
Crime? The rich only have to worry about an unfortunate accident. People can still be killed by bullets and such, but it’s not a good idea to kill unless it’s by stealing the victim’s time. Essentially, stealing time is the only crime that is investigated by the police, who are called timekeepers and time zone keepers.
They are not very interested when people in the ghetto steal time from each other because the amount of time stolen doesn’t give the thieves enough time to escape from the ghetto. The time zone keepers make sure that those in the ghetto stay in the ghetto where the time they stole is most likely to be stolen.
Fights are conducted by a method similar to arm wrestling where the strongest take time from the weakest.
There is no way out of the ghetto unless someone with plenty of time comes into the ghetto and gifts his time to someone who will not waste it. And, that is when In Time takes a turn to show us how the people take control over how they will live.
The main character is played by Justin Timberlake as Will Salas. Amanda Seyfried, who I think is a close resemblance to Emma Stone, plays Sylvia Weis, the wealthy daughter of Philippe Weis, played by Vincent Kartheiser. Weis is one of the world’s oldest, and most wealthy men.
I recognized Matt Bomer from the television series White Collar. His part as Henry is short but without him, there would be no rest of the movie. His character is 105 years old, and he wants to die. When thugs want to fight him to take his time, Will rescues him. He gets him to a safe place and while asleep, Henry gives Will all but 5 minutes of the 100 years of time remaining on his clock — remaining to his life and his lifestyle.
In Time is directed by Andrew Niccol. You might remember that Niccol is the brain behind The Truman Show, Gattaca, and Lord of War.
I won’t write anymore spoilers other than to say that the main characters become Robin Hood. They are not pursued for stealing time, but for giving it away to the poor. At the end of the movie we are told by the rich that there is no future because all of the banks have been robbed. The timekeepers have lost control with those from the ghetto entering other time zones. The rich are now running out of time. Then the last scene lets us know that Will and Sylvia know of a bigger bank to rob.
In Time is a movie that takes social justice, oppression and financial inequality issues and puts it in front of our faces without giving speeches. It does more than tell. It shows.
Update: December 5, 2017
When I first watched the scene where Will is told the price for his meal, it caught my attention. It wasn’t the cost per se, but up until that time, the cost of things were in minutes, hours, days, months. That turned out to be true for the duration of the film. The cost of the meal was 8 1/2 weeks. Strange? How does the capsule calculate half of a week when the clocks do not contain half weeks?
It took me awhile to remember the film 8 1/2 weeks. Directors often pay homage to other directors, and this might have been Andrew Nicol paying homage to Italian director Frederico Fellini. Fellini’s movie 8 1/2 weeks is a film about making films that weaves in and out of reality and fantasy.
By symbolism, Nicol was telling us that Will’s fantasy of living care-free with a century of time on his clock would end, and he would be forced back into the reality of living hour by hour, day by day. That is exactly what happens. After a successful poker game where he won more time, the Timekeepers, falsely accusing him of murdering a man to steal the century, confiscate all of Will’s life/time other than 2 hours.
Injustice? Indeed. The Timekeepers did not allow Will to retain the time he fairly won in the poker game, and the film lets us know that Will would not be given a trial, i.e., the 2 hours they allowed him to keep were enough to get him out of the elite zone to “process” him. The movie brings us a dose of reality to see how the falsely accused are perceived in prejudice that strips them of not only assets, but of hope, including hope to live long enough to prove their innocence.