Remorse is the poison of life. I can’t take credit for that line; I’m quoting Charlotte Bronte. But it’s very true that just a moment’s inattention can allow tragedy to happen, and after that moment lives can be ruined. In The Nonduality of Perry Atman, for the title character (David Christopher-Turner) and his wife (Catherine Hearne), that moment leads to the death of their young daughter, Catlin (Lucy Turner) in a freak accident.
Three years later, Perry’s wife is muddling forward as best she can, but Perry refuses to resign himself to the facts and spends hours in their shed, which he’s converted to a workshop / research center dedicated to the study of time travel. They need to get back to that awful moment, he reasons, and make sure they have a happy ending, so time travel is the obvious solution. His wife is increasingly frustrated by his obsession, but Perry can’t back down, not now, when he feels he’s so close.
And one day, all his hopes are realized when he receives a message from his older self, giving detailed instructions on how to save Catlin. Following a voice from the future is a difficult and dangerous task, however, and time travel is an unforgiving mistress. And sending a message back is a far cry from changing the course of history. His grand experiment may succeed — or fail — in ways he can’t even begin to imagine, but he refuses to waver.
Low-budget sci-fi can be a very mixed bag, but this short handles that aspect well, borrowing from famous tropes and giving them an offbeat twist. The movie might have benefited from showing a little more of the building tension between husband and wife, but otherwise there’s a good balance of past and present. And overall it’s a quietly poignant short — Perry is a gentle, thoughtful man whose otherwise sharp mind can’t face the terrible truth and takes refuge in the ridiculous — or perhaps it isn’t so ridiculous after all. There’s also a good balance of pathos and humor — the end credits are a perfect example of the latter — that improves them both. It’s a winning combination that might just make you believe in six impossible things before breakfast.
Written and directed by Anthony Sabanskis and available to watch on opprime.tv!