REVIEW: Timecode [2016]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 15 minutes | Release Date: 2016 (Spain)
Studio: Marvin & Wayne
Director(s): Juanjo Giménez Peña
Writer(s): Pere Altimira & Juanjo Giménez Peña

“See you tomorrow”

A Spanish parking garage owner (Vicente Gil) cuts costs by hiring two security guards to work twelve-hour shifts—eight paid on the clock and four off. It’s a pretty cozy gig wherein you simply watch closed circuit camera feeds, do a couple walks, and let the automated ticket machines do the heavy lifting as far as payments go. There’s a system to everything, the well-oiled machine of professionalism mixed with boredom. Luna (Lali Ayguadé) arrives each morning on a schedule, changes into her uniform, pulls up her hair, and punches in. Her greeting with night shift guard Diego (Nicolas Ricchini) is politely curt and he responds in kind. They sit. They watch. They walk. And they go home before doing it all again, time clicking in perpetuity.

Director Juanjo Giménez Peña wonderfully ensures we understand this regimen’s consistency during the start of Timecode because he’s about to throw in a wrench. A complaint was lodged with the owner that a customer’s car taillight was damaged in the garage. He doesn’t believe it—his hostility a delight in its holier than thou egotism—but asks Luna to run the tapes just to confirm. What she finds is surprising. Not only did the damage occur in the garage, Diego was the perpetrator. There’s more to this revelation than mere property damage, but I’ll let you discover that yourself. Just know that Peña’s short film is more than the ethical quandary of turning a coworker in or covering for him. It’s actually a nuanced romantic comedy instead.

What follows is a series of unspoken “love letters” left via Post-It notes and timestamps. The regimen becomes slightly unhinged as Luna and Diego’s lethargic “sleepwalking” is replaced by enthusiasm. They continue with short pleasantries upon meeting at shift change, but then quickly rewind the feeds to see what the other created in their absence: a sweetly charming exchange of bare personalities and soulfully expressive visual communication. And just when you think another snag occurs, Peña does what he must by sharing a rousing collision course we’ve been waiting to experience from the beginning. Add a perfectly laugh-out-loud punch line from Pep Domenech before cutting to black and you receive a memorable tale immortalized in the past by technological permanence. Two become one as only they know how.

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