Maggie is celebrating her birthday with her lover Ryan, and the two of them spend a leisurely weekend with one another sequestered away in an apartment. During their time together, they make love, talk and hang out, losing themselves in a cocoon of intimacy. There are no kids, no work or no distractions; there is only one another.
But as the weekend goes on, they steadily avoid a certain subject, though it's inevitable that it will intrude upon their relationship. Maggie must face the truth of her love for Ryan and its inherent limitations -- and choose between the loneliness of commitment or the uncertainty of freedom.
This short romantic drama, written by and starring Ashley Cole, captures the sacred hush of deep and abiding love, when two people are the entire world to one another. With sensitive dialogue and a soft, gentle pace, we experience this relationship as the main characters do: as a world apart from the hustle and bustle of real life, or refuge and sanctuary of understanding and tenderness. Captured with warm, naturalistic visuals that are both cozy and romantic, the evocation of intimacy, both physically and emotionally, is appealing in the sense of safety and sensuality, and it is easy to see why neither Maggie nor Ryan wants to disturb it.
And yet the details of real life bleed slowly into the dialogue as the film proceeds, just as the visuals also take on a tinge of claustrophobia. Maggie and Ryan's domestic, intimate space starts to feel cloistered off and confined, a transformation in feeling that takes on added meaning as details of Ryan's life situation start to chip at the bubble of intimacy. The slow pivot is done with care, and what begins as a love story becomes a meditation on the borders between romantic love and illusion.
As the central couple, Cole and her co-lead actor Shane McRae have a palpable connection that feels lived-in and believable, and both actors are also skilled at hinting at the individual psychological weights they carefully keep at arms' length for the duration of the time together. Yet there is no escape from this baggage, and from the outer circumstance that will assert itself, no matter what they feel or do. The only thing they can do in the face of it is either accept reality and the possibility of heartache or keep their commitment to one another, no matter how wrenching it may be.
Tender, warm and embracing, "Time" captures the primacy of human connection, and how deeply soothing and comforting it is to know and be known by someone on such an intimate level. We see why Maggie and Ryan prize their time together, and why both would be reluctant to give it up. The storytelling leads with intimacy, but when the film reveals the full situation between Ryan and Maggie, it adds yet another dimension to its meaning, humanizing an often overlooked segment of the population and their families. It makes the case for why human connection is so necessary -- and then makes us confront the pain of having that connection severed.