Frequencies (OXV: The Manual)

Director: Darren Paul Fisher. Starring: Daniel Fraser, Eleanor Wyld, Owen Pugh. UK, 2013. Budget: unknown, but very low. Box office: unknown. IMDB: 6.8. RT: 100%. My rating: 1.5/4. Romantic girly YA movie pretending to be hard science fiction.frequencies

– Sex is like masturbation, just with someone else.
– I hope not.
(conversation between Marie and Zak)

– I have a 210 I.Q. I never needed to take notes. I just didn’t want to always have to look at people or have them looking at me. It’s the eyes.
(Marie)

It may actually took a while to figure out what is wrong with “Frequencies”. The photography is solid, the dialogues ate witty, the acting is trustworthy and the concept may seem intriguing. Quiet high ratings for such a low budget British movie. But… it just doesn’t work all together. For a not high demanding viewer that doesn’t ask too many questions, “Frequencies” may seem fine. But after a deeper look, it’s easy that it is just another shallow YA movie, this time without a big budget. The whole construction of the movie starts falls apart rapidly. “Frequencies” suffers from a typical disease of being too ambitious, hence trying to say too much and as a result saying little.

vlcsnap-2015-04-20-12h20m10s808

The plot. What we have here? An alternative version of the world, where each person has a special frequency. It totally decides your destiny – those with high frequency w20170307_143753ill never be late for a train, get a bad job offer or spill a cup of coffee (and vice a versa). The whole society is divided from early school years in different groups based on each person’s frequency. Accidentally a boy (Daniel Fraser) with one of the lowest frequencies ever falls in love with a girl (Eleanor Wyld) with a uniquely high frequency. Can he find a way to stay with her?

After a good start, instead of developing more main characters and telling us more about 20170307_143545frequencies and the dystopian (utopian?!) world, the movie is piled up with unnecessary elements. None of which are truly original or well explored, mostly being borrowed elsewhere. Examples? For a few minutes we are introduced to a character who learnt how to foresee the future – this idea is never repeated again. Then, main characters manage to invent a special machine that can alternate frequencies if special words are pronounced. What is it, science fiction or Harry Potter? (I have nothing against Harry Potter, by the way). Then we learn that these magic words cause a side effect (and it’s rather silly). Later, we are introduced to the music concept – music somehow equalizes different people’s frequencies. To make it even worse, the plot even introduces a conspiracy based society. And trust me, there’s much, much more…

20170307_143708With this kind of a realization, the main concept seems even more superficial. Finally, what is this frequency? Is it your destiny? So what will happen if somebody with a high frequency and a low frequency go to catch the train at the same time? The movie never explores even an idea that simple, let alone how the whole society works.

The reception. The film currently has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (which I find weird). It didn’t win any major awards on independent film festivals except for Kansas City FilmFest.

Worth watching? Not really. “Frequencies” may impress those who haven’t seen many good films as technically it is a well done movie. But dig deeper and you’ll recognize that it looks more like 20170307_143732a shallow gimmick than a good-hearted story it intended to be. After all, it’s one more YA romantic story about a divided society, two teens who cannot be together for some reason (frequencies, in this case) and try to change their destiny.

Don’t fool yourself with the sci-fi wrapping – there’s very little of it. The more you deconstruct the film, the more it starts to fall apart. Surprisingly, the messed up plot, good photography and very decent acting may mask the flawed concepts pretty well (hence high ratings), but as you peel deeper there’s little inside. At its best, “Frequencies” can deliver some witty lines.

Acting:  3/4
Directing: 2.5/4
Originality: 2/4
Maturity: 1/4
Pathos level: high
Final vote: 1.5/4

Watch instead: “The Lobster” for wry and deadpan humour about our society norms and a couple relationship’s dissection, sentimental “Fahrenheit 451” by Francois Truffaut is a curious old dystopia based on Ray Bradbury’s novel, “THX-1138” for minimal and deadly visuals, “Gattaca” for a futuristic take on humanity, “Sunshine” for space dystopia, “Moon” for a minimal thought-provoking futuristic dystopia.

But if you really want to understand why I was so harsh with “Frequencies”, have a look at “Dead Man’s Letters” and “Stalker“. These movie are meaningful and touching, but never manipulating… never having so much vicious excess.

11 thoughts on “Frequencies (OXV: The Manual)

  1. Interesting, but I think you are absolutely right about the gimmick here because the whole concept of frequencies sounds unconvincing and under-cooked at best. Creative enough, though. You give some other great recommendations on films to watch. For example, I am not a fan of George Lucas, but I really like the sound of THX 1138 (as I now read about it in Wikipedia).
    As for the 100% Rotten Tomatoes’ approval – 6 reviews do not count at all – there is definitely no consensus on that – it may as well have been 6 negative reviews – that is not even a number in the broader Rotten Tomatoes scheme 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t like George Lucas either, but I guess it were times when he was different, just like John Carpenter when he directed Dark Star.. No wonder Lucas abandoned directing later and became more into producing various projects.

      THX-1138 is a very artsy film and isn’t a particularly easy watch, but given the year of its release I consider it a milestone in sci-fi cinema. It is detailed, stunning both visually and musically. The white designs are mesmerizing and certainly proved to be very influential.

      Some sounds of the films were used by many musicians, most notably I can recall Nine Inch Nails…

      Overall, it is a creative film with some drawbacks.

      If you’re going to watch it, try to find the original version, not the director’s cut which introduced unnecessary computer-generated stuff. The old film is beautiful just how it is.

      6 votes are definitely not much, but if I remember it well you need to be quite a prominent cinema critic with a certain amount of monthly visitors on your website/magazine/whatever… So I was quite suspicious of all these rating.

      But you’re right. The film in fact haven’t won any awards, which happens often to all these independent stuff.

      The concept is amazing, but it reminds me of The Space Between Us – instead of delving into the main concept, the movie starts to do something else. As Dave Gahan said… WRONG! 🙂

      By the way, I’ve updated the main page’s design, what do you think of it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am loving your new page design!
        As for THX-1138, I am now even more curious seeing it. It actually is quite interesting to see all these relatively old films and see how much impact these films made on films made nowadays. When one sees all these contemporary films nowadays, one does not necessarily realise how unoriginal they really are and often thinks – “oh, how creative and original!”. But, when you eventually watch some obscure source material, everything then falls into place, and you realise how much was in fact borrowed from the past. It is quite intriguing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, that really is a shame as I have to admit that I really liked the plot you were describing here. Too bad it got executed poorly, but wow a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes? That is just really strange honestly. But I always trust your judgement, so I am going to give this a big pass (which I’m happy to do seeing I already have way too much to watch anyway lol 😂).

    Liked by 1 person

    • The plot by itself is very good that’s why I was so interested in seeing it, but the problem is that at a certain point (which happens as far as 15th or 20th minute) the movie stops exploring the plot and starts to deviate and add and remove some other stuff, becoming some kind of weird romcom YA… yikes. I was kinda sad after watching the film. It is beautifully shot and well-executed technically, but the writing and the script ruin everything. Have you seen The Space Between Us? If yes, that is the feeling…

      As for RT – Chris rightfully noted these were just 6 votes. But still.

      So yes, you can definitely skip this one 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm, I always hate it when something like this happens. A promising plot failed because of a messed up execution. I haven’t seen the Space between us (but of course have heard about it) but that one also isn’t a film that I plan on watching anytime soon. But glad I can at least skip a movie for a change as well lol 😂

        Liked by 1 person

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