Project Almanac, film review: Sci-fi interweaved with high-school drama in an inventive way

(12A) Dean Israelite, 106 mins Starring: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista
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The Independent Culture

Dean Israelite's time-travel drama is hampered by its own found-footage conceit. Every shot is supposed to have been filmed by the protagonists themselves – which means we're exposed to far too much juddering, hand-held camera work. A sly screenplay, by Jason Harry Pagan and Andrew Deutschman, interweaves the sci-fi elements with rites-of-passage high-school drama in an inventive way.

David (Jonny Weston) is the bright kid who gets into M.I.T but doesn't win a big enough scholarship to be able to afford to go there. His father died years before and his mom wants to sell the home to pay the college fees. He discovers his father's old video camera as well as his father's plans for a time machine – which he and his friends proceed to build.

Early on, the emphasis is on the uncanny (David seeing himself as a young adult in a video of his seventh birthday party) but once the time machine is up and running, the students use their device to impress girls, avenge themselves against school bullies and to get the best tickets to watch their favourite bands.