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TADFF 2019: James vs. His Future Self Review

It’s tough to admit how often we’re our own worst enemy. Whether it’s too much partying, unhealthy eating habits, or leaving important tasks until the last minute, it’s easy to be the agent of our own destruction. And making matters worse, until we are ready to embrace significant change in our lives, no amount of advice from the people around us can alter our behaviour. But what if your future self travelled back in time to tell you where you f*cked up? Would knowing how the future unfolds be a strong enough deterrent to affect our stubborn ways?

James vs. His Future Self, from co-writer/director Jeremy LaLonde, uses time travel to examine a man’s self-destructive tendencies. The film is a sci-fi dramedy about James (Jonas Chernick), a single-minded scientist who is obsessed with achieving time travel. If there is one thing capable of pulling him away from his work, it’s his co-worker, friend, and crush, Courtney (Cleopatra Coleman).

James doesn’t have it in him to act on his feelings for Courtney until his future self (Daniel Stern) shows up on the scene like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. James tells James that he will unlock the mysteries of time travel, but it will cost him dearly. But despite this ominous knowledge, James isn’t willing to give up his obsession.

Fans of LaLonde’s work will feel right at home watching this film. James vs. features a compelling premise, slightly raunchy humour, and plenty of heart. Time travel movies are inherently screwy, and writers go mad trying to establish rules that don’t conflict with the plot’s logic. LaLonde does an excellent job grounding his sci-fi story, which focuses on strong characters and less on time travel mechanics. And excellent performances from Daniel Stern and Frances Conroy are an added bonus.

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The 14th annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs from October 17th —25th at Scotiabank Theatre. For more information, click here.

Editor’s Note: Filmmaker Jeremy LaLonde’s podcast Black Hole Films is part of the That Shelf network.

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