James vs His Future Self – Glasgow Film Festival 2020 – Film Review
The theory in Back to the Future clearly states that the past version and the future version of an individual should never meet without catastrophic implications for the space-time continuum or something to that effect! This idea of time travel is completely subverted in James vs His Future Self, as the title suggests that the past and the future actually collide in this amusing sci-fi tale. James vs His Future Self will have its European Première at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020 on 4 March.
Time travel has featured in many films and tv programmes such as the aforementioned Back to the Future, Quantum Leap and Somewhere in Time with each proffering different theories but the common theme is that they highlight that wrongs in the future may be corrected by making slight adjustments at pivotal moments in the past. James vs His Future Self also subscribes to this premise quite literally as James’ future self, played by Daniel Stern, of Home Alone fame, with a formidable comic relish, arrives to prevent himself from developing a time travel device with a preference to fostering the relationships he neglects to avoid being lonely. It is a simple premise which might seem sentimental at moments but James vs His Future Self offers a fresh perspective within the comedic sci-fi tropes.
However, James vs His Future Self is at times slapstick in nature and lacking in substance but the dynamic between the two actors playing James is a marvel to watch. You might wonder why the younger James, played by Jonas Chernick, immediately appears to believe that the future incarnation is even connected to him, well, let’s just say that they both have an identifiable unique shape on an intimate body part, which creates some hilarious scenes.
As there is no judgement placed by director Jeremy Lalonde of the two James’, as the audience you may choose a side but does the younger version of James truly deserve any sympathy or is the older version just jaded with the life he has led and filled with regret? Chernick gives a nuanced performance in depicting the socially awkward James whilst Stern provides that aura of the worldly but insufferable relative as the older version who is referred to as Jimmy. In using separate actors as the different versions of James, there is an easier distinction to draw between the conflicting personality traits of the character and their interaction just works and is amusing to watch.
Reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, James receives insight into the future to persuade him to change his career plans. In other more predictable tales, there may have been an earlier character redemption arc as James lives with his sister and has a good female friend at work. However, there are clues from the outset as to the level of James’ obsession with the development of a time travel tool as he is introduced whilst working on physics formulae and he even has a board in his bedroom, above his bed, with maths formulae. The obsession does create a degree of inertia with some hilarious outcomes ensuing. James vs His Future Self in such moments shines a spotlight on us all to emphasise how easy it may be to become absorbed in work to the detriment of other activities and relationships within our lives.
It is also refreshing to see that the women in James vs His Future Self have quite prominent roles. This is particularly noticeable with a female boss in the scientific company in which James works and his friend, Courtney, is also a scientist at the top of her field. Cleopatra Coleman plays Courtney with an unparalleled enthusiasm and will certainly be one to watch in the future; as such, it is delightful to observe the witty repartees between Courtney and James which could even be the feature of an entire two-hander film with such great chemistry on display between them.
Stunning aerial views of a lake in moving scenes and long angles also focus on the adoption of meditation as a coping mechanism for James and there are effective camera angles highlighting the tranquillity of such zen-like environment. Such relaxing techniques are effectively a present from Jimmy to his younger self as he is essentially the antithesis to the younger version.
You might also find that you take away a few of Jimmy’s practices and quotes as Stern is extremely persuasive in the role. The idea of eating a croissant slowly to appreciate it, à la Jimmy, certainly has a charming appeal!
James vs His Future Self is an easy but enjoyable watch overall with many comic, laugh out loud elements. The film lightly queries work obsession and life priorities but also reminds us of the important meaning of love and is therefore worthwhile viewing.
James vs His Future Self will be released in the UK on Sky TV