I’ll be honest here. When Frequencies was first pitched to me, I didn’t know if it could work. It’s being billed as a romance with a slight tinge of science fiction, and to be completely honest, those films usually don’t turn out well. They tend to skew toward one genre more than the other and soon end up in an unwatchable grey area. Thankfully, Frequencies doesn’t have those problems. It’s neither a sci-fi film with romance nor a romance film with sci-fi elements. It carves its own wonderful path.
Frequencies has come out of nowhere to become one of my favorite films of 2014. It’s intelligent, subtle, quiet, intimate, and just a bit weird. Good weird.
Director: Darren Paul Fisher
Release Date: May 22, 2014 (VOD and iTunes)
In Frequencies, the world is governed by the frequencies each human being emits. The higher a person’s frequency, the more success they’ll have in life. The main focus of the story is on Zak (Daniel Fraser), a boy with an unusually low frequency, and Marie (Eleanor Wyld), a girl with an unusually high one. The two can’t stand next each other for more than a minute without the world taking action against Zak (it rains on him, he misses his train and so on). After falling in love with Marie during their school years, Zak dedicates the rest of his life trying to fight his frequency in order to get closer to her.
I’ll admit that my summary might make Frequencies seem a bit more schmaltzy than it actually is, but that’s the beauty of the film’s intelligence. While the romance between the two main characters is definitely at the forefront, it’s downplayed to develop the vision of this semi-futuristic world without compromising the integrity of its romance. In fact, just when you think the romance is developing a little too quickly to really mean anything, that’s when Frequencies science fiction roots take hold and support the story.
Much like its two main characters, Frequencies is told in many different frequencies. Separated into five different sections, different aspects of its singular story highlight the point of view of a single character (For example, Zak is first, Marie is second, etc.). It’s a clever decision as each POV shows enough of each character that the audience is able to develop a relationship with them. But the smartest move the film makes is blending its two genres together in a way that allows the science fiction to inform the romantic side of things. A successful blend of the genres eventually comes to a head in the fourth section and, without giving too much away, it makes some of the later decisions a bit easier to swallow.
Most romantic films are full of contrivances. Girl falls in love with boy because he happens to be the only person in her life that didn’t treat her like garbage. At first it seemed like Frequencies was going to follow the same pattern, but it becomes apparent that the film’s romance is developed for the specific purpose of spiting those cede contrivances. This romance questions the very nature of fate and predestination, and creating a variable human presence within a world of set rules. When you realize each character’s pursuit of romance is really a thinly veiled attempt at becoming a more developed person, rather than acting as a character confined to a role in a story, the resulting relationships that stem forth are worth celebrating.
Frequencies is not completely without its faults, however. The finale derails a bit of the momentum it sets up once it dissolves into generics as it becomes a complete science fiction film. The solution to all of the problems feels hokey rather than sweet. It’s almost too saccharine in approach to work. Developments take place at such a rapid speed, it’s almost impossible to accept or even care about them. As it lacks the multi-dimensional treatment of the rest of the story, it all falls flat and lacks power. Luckily, it ends on a high by going back to its well built romance.
Look past its finale, Frequencies is entertaining throughout. There are a few lapses in pace here and there, but even those can be explained away by the story’s multi-layered sections. When it’s all said and done, Frequencies is one of the best romances this year. And maybe more years to come.
I was definitely resonating at Frequencies‘ frequency.