Story: Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is in a band, which is not very successful, but he also runs a café, and his apartment is a few floors above it. One day, when he gets home, he sees himself on his monitor and that person starts talking to him. At first, he doesn't understand what is going on. But his monitor-self tells him that he is actually downstairs in the café, and that the monitor there has a time delay of two minutes to the monitor in his apartment. This means that he is watching himself in the future. However, before he manages to understand all this completely, he already has to leave his apartment and go downstairs to the café in order to tell his apartment-self what is happening. That is because two minutes have almost passed by, and he does not want to create a paradox. When he finishes doing that, the employee Ozawa (Yoshifumi Sakai), who is still cleaning up, asks him what he is doing. He tries to explain it when his friend Komiya (Gota Ishida) enters the café too. After Komiya is convinced that they can really see two minutes into the future, he brings in two more friends. They then discuss how they could take advantage of the situation, while Kato himself is not all that happy about the whole thing. Then Komiya has another idea and takes the monitor from the apartment to the café and places it opposite of the other monitor. Now they can see two minutes into the future multiple times. But it doesn't take too long for the first problems to arise...
Review: When talking about independent flicks that revolve around time travel, you probably inevitably have to think of "Primer" - if you are interested in the subgenre. But the question is whether a good idea alone is enough to fill an entire movie and if it can manage to entertain the audience. After all, as a critic you want to appreciate the work of directors who play in a completely different league than Christopher Nolan's "Tenet", but you shouldn't be too indulgent either. Fortunately, it is not necessary to set a completely different standard to other movies here. "Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes" is an outstanding demonstration of the fact that hard work and passion in combination with today's highly developed cell phone cameras can lead to a wonderful sci-fi flick. The movie always stays gripping, especially because of the way time always breathes down your neck. After all, no one wants to risk a paradox!
In a pleasant way, the movie is also pretty stressful, as you always wonder whether the director will actually manage to pull off the vision he had in mind. After all, the events are quite convoluted. Nevertheless, it is pretty praiseworthy that the basic idea is not too complicated, and that it is also presented in a non-technical way. But it's only as time progresses that you realize what consequences the premise actually entails, and if you keep thinking about it, you can certainly get a headache - but a pleasant kind of headache. The intertwined time loop(s) always makes us eagerly await what will happen next, and this is all the more astonishing because we actually know what has to happen in order not to create a paradox. Interestingly enough, the scenes that are shown again from a different perspective, never get boring, and that is also because you always have to marvel at how perfectly the timing works.
When talking about timing, it should also be mentioned that the movie looks as if it had been shot in just one take. There actually are well-hidden cuts hidden in strategically smart places, but that doesn't change the fact that everything had to be perfectly coordinated over very long periods of time if you didn't want to reshoot everything. During the end credits we also get a glimpse behind the scenes, and then it becomes clear that you were right assuming that shooting this movie had to be a ton of work. You also have to point out that the movie looks surprisingly professional, as there are a lot of directors who have much more expensive equipment, but only manage to put together shaky shots with poor lighting. With his debut work, Junta Yamaguchi manages to refute anyone who claims that with a small budget you can only capture qualitatively lousy footage.
The story becomes slightly philosophical over time, and despite a consistently carefree atmosphere, there are also a few creepy moments which confront us with the fact that once you know about the future, you become a slave to it. As a time travel flick, "Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes" has everything you could wish for. But if you want to be completely honest, there is actually one big catch. The characters all seem pretty distant and not properly fleshed-out. Maybe that's just too much to ask for when the future chases you across the screen for 70 minutes straight, but it's a pity that we don't manage to warm up to the characters. There is no real chemistry between them, even though there is a certain dynamic because of the long shots that create a nice pace. And despite being under time pressure, the actors also manage to present their dialogues in a natural way, and do not seem like they are part of a badly acted stage play. Which is a big plus.
Somehow, this sci-fi flick reminds you a little bit of "One Cut of the Dead" or even "Hydra", because it fights in a weight class it actually has no business being in, but it still manages to knock out most of its opponents. Another parallel is also that the energy and love for the medium of film can be seen in every fiber of "Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes". This energy is contagious, and along with the story's intelligent developments, it ensures that you always stay glued to the screen. Unfortunately, there is a resolution towards the end, which once more commits the typical logical errors of time travel flicks, even though at least, it tries to make a little fun of it. By the way, another funny aspect is that the monitor seems to have an infinitely long cable, as it can even be carried up to the fifth floor... Nevertheless, in the end, we get an outstanding sci-fi flick, which was done with a lot of love, and the movie's quality proves that. A hidden gem which will hopefully manage to gain attention beyond film festivals too.