Fantasia Festival: Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes (2021)

Director: Junta Yamaguchi

Running Time: 70 Minutes

Starring: Kazunori Tosa, Aki Asakura, Gota Ishida, Riko Fujitani, Yoshifumi Sakai

After another ordinary day in his stagnant life, Kato (Kazunori Tosa) returns to his apartment located above the café he owns. His quiet night playing guitar is interrupted by a surprising message, as his computer screen shows an image of Kato speaking from two-minutes into the future. Through this discovery, Kato draws his friends and co-workers into this fantastical premise as they try to make sense of this limited time-loop.

Of all the reactions to this film, most notable may be the acclaim from One Cut of The Dead director Shin'ichirĂ´ Ueda who called it a worthy successor to his film. This feels accurate, as Junta Yamaguchi's directorial debut is also an imaginative spin on a well-worn genre, delivered through wit and charm, while conveyed through a continuous single-take.

This bare-bones idea could've made an intriguing short-film, though the creators expand upon it for something humorous and invigorating which plays with science-fiction ideas. Mirroring this expansion well are the characters, whose excitement diminishes when they realise how limiting a two-minute insight can be. After asking advice and having fun, they attempt to further things and profit from the phenomenon, though it just complicates matters in ways that come back to bite them.

These fun instances give way to larger questions, such as whether knowing the future means the group must stay consistent, or whether they can change things. It's a conundrum which could bring unimaginable consequences, although their attempts to learn what's coming further controls them, especially when the catch glimpses of an unwanted future. What sounds like bleak existentialism is thankfully balanced by heart-warming joy, be it the characters enjoying the premise or Kato sweetly bonding with the girl next door.

A product of great inventiveness told in such joyous ways, something special has been crafted here. Even when a late inclusion threatens to tip things too far in the wrong direction, the film quickly alleviates those worries. What's left is a sweet and humorous tale wrapped in a sci-fi premise, ready to remind viewers it isn't necessary to know the future when it's possible to enjoy the present.

Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes has its North American premiere On Demand at Fantasia Festival 2021