In Synchronicity, writer-director Jacob Gentry and cinematographer Eric Maddison offer a smorgasbord of derivative sci-fi imagery that’s meant to affirm their bona fides as upstart visionaries. Their intricately layered interior tableaus, shrouded in fastidious shards of white noirish light, are often ludicrously rich in twirling fans, mirrors, lamps, book shelves, and silk screens, per the Blade Runner playbook. Futuristic cityscapes are bathed in melancholy blues and grays a la Minority Report. Certain canted shots of buildings suggest Alphaville and Dark City. Tying everything together is Ben Lovett’s synth score, which represents a bald act of theft from Vangelis, who, lest we forget, composed the music for Blade Runner.
The narrative’s also a knot of homages. Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) is a blandly hunky physicist looking to open a wormhole into the cosmos, contending, most pressingly, with his exploitation by a corrupt financier, Klaus (Michael Ironside). Providing this conflict with its requisite dash of sex appeal is Abby (Brianne Davis), a femme fatale who, with her full cheeks and propensity for black fetish clothing, suggests Jennifer Lawrence playing Aeon Flux, only without the intrigue that union might potentially engender. Jim grows jealous of Abby’s association with Klaus, and goes tumbling into his intergalactic portal, fostering a wellspring of existentialist quandaries that will be familiar to fans of La Jetée, 12 Monkeys, Primer, Timecrimes, among others.
Synchronicity is appealing to superficially behold. There’s a reason these aural/visual flourishes never seem to go out of style: Chilly, lonely sex, and anonymous future-shock decadence go together like gangbusters for modernly self-pitying reasons that might be impossible to ever entirely unpack. But the film is cluttered and pointless. The wormhole conceit has no urgency because Gentry’s preoccupied with the possibility of meeting an available “10” who hangs on an ambitious male’s every word while casually striking fashion cover poses. Abby suggests Sean Young’s character in Blade Runner if she were made over as a manic pixie dream girl, and Jim’s pronounced lack of stature as a protagonist is perhaps inadvertently intended to encourage his adaptation as a surrogate by wishful audiences. The film has the emotional fatuousness of uncertain softcore erotica.