In The Infinite Man, a young inventor obsessively attempts to engineer the perfect romantic weekend and record every happy moment between him and his girlfriend. When his idea is thwarted by the unexpected arrival of his partner’s aggressive ex-boyfriend, the technical wiz invents a time-travelling device to return to the exact moment the incident occurred to prevent it from happening. As a result, the three characters become trapped in an infinite metaphysical time loop.
“The Infinite Man was inspired by a few things, certain character types and traits that have always interested me and that I thought might work well in a time travel story – a genre I’ve always been quite fond of,” says debut writer-director Hugh Sullivan. “There was also a set and rather low budget that I was writing to and this seemed like a good way to create something that hopefully feels a little richer and more expansive than its single location and small cast might suggest.”
That cast includes newcomer Josh McConville (The Turning) as titular technical wiz Dean, Hannah Marshall (Packed to the Rafters) as the object of his affection, Lana, and Alex Dimitriades (Summer Coda, The Slap) as her brutish ex, Terry. The location is an abandoned seaside hotel (filmed in the South Australian village of Woomera) that takes on a remote post-apocalyptic ambiance in the film.
The film’s low budget naturally encouraged economical creativity. “The inability to throw money at problems meant they had to be solved through more creative [i.e. affordable] means. It certainly encouraged me to push myself that bit harder in the writing,” says Sullivan, who counts the recently deceased French auteur Alain Resnais as an influence, particularly his 1968 time-travelling drama Je t'aime, je t'aime.
The complex storyline, which like Groundhog Day repeats events endlessly throughout the duration, no doubt posed some intricate narrative challenges too. “With a story such as this, even the smallest change to a scene necessitated changes throughout the script,” says Sullivan, who also edited The Infinite Man. “And each of these changes necessitated further changes, until finally the original change had to be changed to accommodate these new changes, which then necessitated changes throughout the script. And so on.”
Nevertheless, the response to The Infinite Man has been very encouraging. Both audiences and critics warmed to the film’s humour and the intricacies involved in decoding the metaphysical narrative when it premiered in early March at the Austin SXSW film festival (alongside The Spierig Bros’ less embraced but equally time travel-themed Predestination).
“We've been thrilled with the response to the film so far,” says Sullivan. “It's been great to see it really connect with an audience. I guess you always hope that an audience might leave [this] film with a greater understanding of what it means to be human, or at least what it means to be a human who can travel in time.”
Watch 'The Infinite Man'
Monday 7 June, 9:30pm on SBS World Movies / Now streaming at SBS On Demand
Director: Hugh Sullivan
Starring: Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, Alex Dimitriades