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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.09.18] Canada scifi drama

A group of enterprising app developers are doing their best to get a new parking app off the ground but when their pitch meeting ends with a request for delivery the team simply can't meet, it looks like their dreams of being the next big thing are dashed.

After a night of drinking that leads to a brawl in the laundry room of their shared work/living space, the group finds a hidden set of stairs to an attic they never knew existed and from there, a mirror that turns out to be the gateway to parallel universes.

And so Parallel follows the group, led by Noel (Martin Wallstrom of "Mr. Robot" fame), as they develop a plan to finish the app in time for delivery and once delivered, the group, which includes Josh (Mark O'Brien), Leena (Georgia King) and Devin (Aml Ameen), set off to figure out exactly how the mirror works and how they can game it to help themselves in their "real" world.

As you can probably guess, it eventually ends badly because nothing that is too good to be true can continue on for any extended period of time, especially when you're dealing with alternate universes which, in this instance at least, share similarities with stories of time travel.

Parallel marks the first time Mexican writer/director Isaac Ezban tackles a script he didn't write but it's not a far stretch for the director who has tackled similar themes in earlier films. This production affords him a larger budget and a couple of recognizable actors though what it makes up in the flashier production is lacking in storytelling because Parallel simply doesn't offer anything to challenge themes and concepts already put forth by other movies.

That's not to say Parallel is a bad movie. The performances are all great, particularly Wallstrom who continues to play supreme asshole, and Ezban's direction is fine thought not particularly memorable. The major problem is that the story itself, from first time writer Scott Blaszak, feels like a watered-down Primer that never quite manages to find an emotional core. Though not for lack of trying; there's a romantic entanglement thrown in late in the game between two of the central characters which only works to highlight the movie's lack of character development.

At the end of the day, Parallel is a watchable though mediocre drama with a sci-fi element which feels very much like a stepping stone for a director with far more interesting stories to tell.

Parallel is currently playing the festival circuit.

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