Erratum 2037


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Erratum 2037
"Half as long as Tenet and at least four times as fun."

Erratum's budget probably wouldn't stretch to cover any of the platinum poison pills of Tenet, a film with which it shares a number of features. Not just time travel of sorts, but ambition. On a shoestring, not quite literally, it manages to bounce back and forth to create a pleasing picture that ably marks its way.

I was minded of Primer, another pocket-friendly puzzle of physics fun. That had more to do with intent, however, than execution. Primer's budget was spent entirely on film, requiring rigorous rehearsal to capture exactly what was intended in something symbolic of the film itself. Erratum 2037 is far more ramshackle, endearingly so. There seems to be nowhere where intent was moderated by budget, and it's all the stronger for it.

There are car chases, or at least chases involving things like cars. There's a bit that's cribbed from North By Northwest, among nods to any number of films. What seems like Chekov's gunge turns out to have borrowed from Bill & Ted's Excellent Parts-Bin. There are sequences that feel like (very) early Red Dwarf, a school-play of Metropolis, Blade Runner made with safety scissors. This is like the films within a film of Son Of Rambow or Old Boys, but it is the film itself.

Time travel, yes, but also maybe aliens and clones, UFOs and Euros. A gory discovery on an abandoned farm. Autoroutes made of cardboard and computer graphics. Some genuinely neat science-fictional touches, the wanted posters cycling across the long bonnet of a police spinner. Chronological commercial chaos that recalls the clockwork of Looper or Timecop. Secret agents. Flamethrowers. Beekeepers too!

Not just because they're cheap costuming, and not just because they change the way the world works as winningly as Wandavision. Previously seen apparatus of security system evasion is present, fingerprints in all the right boxes, but there's more.

I don't think I've seen facial recognition deployed as cleverly in a film before, made more striking by a shot that borrows from Minority Report's angelic angles. There's a poster for The Matrix on a wall, perhaps anachronous for 2013, but it's reflected in a sunglass shot that's deadly in its detail.

I could, and perhaps should, talk tediously of technical failings. Of glaring compositing marks, of ramshackle recreations of cityscapes, of what is clearly a Fiat Panda with some stuff glued to the back. I choose instead to Be Kind (Rewind) and talk about all the times it made me smile, and laugh out loud. Not at, or at least not entirely, but with.

There's a double-take during one of the chases that made me laugh as much as that pun did when I realised I could make it. There's a late arrival that seems to have been taken from the Robert Rodriguez playbook, with the addition of a folding jetbike. Its 4:3ish aspect ratio and the torches set to X-Files do more to ground it in the distant past of 2013 than any set dressing. Intercepted messages from the future and future interceptions of past messages combine to comic effect. As does a bad guy briefing that cribs as heavily from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy as an all-hands alarm.

Eli Wallach's line as Tuco from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly appears - "when you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk". It's good advice, not least because Erratum 2037 clearly decided to shoot.

A family effort by the Benoits (Elie, Emilien, Johann variously write/direct/star) this is also a d├ębut, and a charming one. At about an hour and a quarter it's half as long as Tenet and at least four times as fun. First released in 2017 in France, which would make some of its action 20 years in the then future, it's now available to UK and US audiences without access to whatever flavour of transport would get you to Australia in 2019 for a festival screening. You do probably need Amazon though.

There are video artefacts, enough early on that I had to chop and change browser settings to make sure what was wobbly was what was meant to be. A peril of online screeners, but more convenient than being Weird Science-d awake by an email from the future sent through what looks exactly like, but not quite, a car stereo.

I don't quite know how to convey how delightful this was if you are not a fan of the genre. It is slipshod, yes, but in the Fremen fashion. As Liet Kynes said they "shall know your ways as if born to them." In a world where there are incredible films about failing to make films, Jodorowsky's Dune, Lost In La Mancha, this is something else. To borrow from Douglas Adams, it's as if they attempted to fail to make one, but missed. In the process they've created something soaring, stirring, silly and superb. Their aim is higher than tilting at worms and by the maker, they've done it.

Reviewed on: 07 Jun 2021
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Erratum 2037 packshot
After a high school student accidentally intercepts a message from the future, he is kidnapped and sent into the future where he has to stop the mad plans of an evil genius.

Director: Elie Benoit, Emilien Benoit, Johann Benoit

Writer: Elie Benoit, Emilien Benoit, Johann Benoit

Starring: Teddy Arlot, Elie Benoit, Emilien Benoit

Year: 2017

Runtime: 77 minutes

Country: France


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