March 1, 2019 Tangent Room (Movie Review)
There is a psychological paradox that states that if you put problem solvers into a situation they know nothing about and place time constraints upon them, they will produce better results. Insert some quantum mechanics into this equation and you have the basic recipe for the brand-new film Tangent Room. Epic Pictures delivers the Sci-Fi/Thriller to major VOD platforms on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, and yes, this one will have your head spinning!
In Chile’s Atacama Desert sits one of the world’s most remote astronomical research facilities. Inside that facility is a largely barren, somewhat dilapidated, square room that is about to house a truly unconventional meeting of the minds. At the behest of the mysterious and reclusive Dr. Wahlstein (Daniel Epstein: Kommissionen series, Huldra: Lady of the Forest 2016), a quartet of international scientists have come together.
The group represents some of the best and brightest working in the fields of astrophysics and quantum mechanics, those that specialize in working with “large, complicated numbers,” such as Sandra (Lisa Bearpark: Figure #1 short 2012, Lyckligare kan ingen vara 2018) of Lund University; an American professor of quantum physics and author of a recent paper on spatial discontinuity, Carol (Jennifer Lila Knipe: Avalon 2011, Sutton’s Case 2018); Kate (Vee Vimolmal: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason 2004, Basic Instinct 2 2006) from the CTF Astrophysics Lab; and electromagnetic interference expert David (Håkan Julander: Höök series, Blue Marble Cafe short 2012).
Locked inside a room, the foursome are soon faced with a video of the illustrious Dr. Wahlstein, who implores them to pay very close attention to his words, as they play a critical role in the groups’ survival. In fact, each of the four individuals is destined to die in four hours unless they can unravel the mystery of their precarious situation and single-handedly prevent their own deaths, thereby saving the destruction of mankind. With each of the scientists being equally clueless as to the ‘why’ of their situation, they must crunch numbers and theorize together to solve the puzzle placed before them before time runs out.
Clocking in at 65 minutes in length, Tangent Room was written and directed by the exceptionally-talented Björn Engström (Unanimous Decision short 2006, The Meaning of Hugo 2012). Billed as a Sci-Fi Thriller, the film is exactly this and heavy on legitimate science, with a plot that references elements of quantum mechanics and string theory, Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC), and beyond. For a reference point, the story shares some basic overlap with Blake Crouch’s exceptional 2016 novel, Dark Matter, so fans of the best-selling novel are likely to delight in this film.
Considering that the entire cast of Tangent Room is composed of five actors, three of them sassy and intelligent women, the film does an exceptional amount with very little. While Epstein is given the least screen time, his role as Dr. Wahlstein is also the ball that gets the entire tale rolling. He is believable as a reclusive, secretive scientist, provides an excellent set-up for the rest of the cast to work with, and he injects some humor into a dire situation.
Otherwise, initially, Vimolmal’s Kate is the most intriguing, as she appears to possess knowledge of the situation that the others lack. However, as the story plays out, each of the actors takes their moment in the spotlight. As the American, Knipe is suitably obnoxious when necessary, immediately setting her character at odds with Vimolmal’s Kate and creating a palpable tension. This creates an inner-chaos for the characters, one that riles them up so as not to simply depict a group of four crunching numbers inside a box. In contrast, Bearpark and Julander portray the more middle-ground characters (Sandra and David), less excitable and an excellent balance between rational scientists and natural skeptics.
Tangent Room is engaging and enjoyable, a superbly intelligent film that provides a big bang (pun very much intended) in a succinct runtime. However, some viewers may need to beware: if you can’t grasp the elementary paradox of Schrodinger’s cat, you might be a bit lost here. To be fair, the film does an excellent job of laying out the pieces one at a time, and providing enough information that viewers should not be entirely lost; but those with some basic knowledge of quantum mechanics are likely to take away much more. Giddy for this truly exceptional Sci-Fi Thriller, Cryptic Rock give Tangent Room 5 of 5 stars.