Time Out

By Navin Ramaswaran | Romance
A couple pretends to meet as their younger selves to determine their future together.

Long-term couple Natasha and Kevin are spending time traveling in Italy. Natasha is working in Europe and Kevin is visiting; both are trying to figure out what their future is together.

As they make their way through Milan, the couple decides to play a game where they “meet” as their younger selves. It’s a charming conceit that allows them to share their histories, hopes and dreams together. But as their pretend ages catch up to their current ones, it also draws them closer to truths they may not be ready to face quite yet.

This lovely, sensitively rendered romantic drama — directed by Navin Ramaswaran, written by co-star Adam Langton and produced by co-star Jen Pogue — begins with a premise that maximizes the innate charm and beauty of its Italian setting, presenting a romantic fantasy that any couple would embrace. A week of romantic leisure in one of the most picturesque countries in Europe, with the chance to share rich, sensuous experiences together: what more would a couple want?

As a product of craft, the film doubles down on its innate advantages, showcasing its beautiful vistas and sights with gorgeous cinematography and graceful camerawork. Part of the film’s decided appeal is this vicarious cinematic travel experience, and there’s much pleasure to be had simply in absorbing the sights and sounds of another place as Natasha and Kevin wander about, exploring the city around them.

It would almost be too honeymoon-like, in fact, except that the writing and performances have an unusual, intelligent acuity and restraint for its genre. Both main characters are clearly close and know one another well, and both Pogue and Langton have an easy-going, warm rapport that comes from a well-worn ease and affection.

The dialogue stays true to these characters, and never really strays into overly quippy or cutesy registers. These are two smart, engaging human beings interacting and engaging with one another, both clearly pursuing meaning and happiness — and trying to figure out where the other fits in this journey.

Yet the dance revealed by their take on a role-playing game shows a tentativeness between them: an unspoken and unanswered question about their future. As they inch toward the answer, the film moves towards a scene that isn’t afraid to go deep into poignant and powerful emotional territory, with a patience that is almost breathtakingly in its vulnerability and honesty.

“Time Out” begins with a light and ineffable tone and feel, but through its emotional bravery and sincerity, it achieves a deeper, more mature resonance that weighs in viewers’ hearts well after the film ends. In a short amount of time, viewers come to care about Natasha and Kevin as a couple and as individuals. And while the ending is beautifully honest, it is also wrenching in how quiet and matter-of-fact it is. Not because the characters are uncaring, but because it’s born of two people coming to a certain amount of self-knowledge — enough to make them realize that despite their love and care for one another, it’s just not something they can take with them on their diverging paths in life, making it all the more heartbreaking.

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