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The Secret Number (2012)

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A psychiatrist is compelled by his patient, an obsessive mathematician, to consider the existence of a secret integer between three and four.

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(screenplay), (based on the short story by)
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Cast

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Dr. Tomlin
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Prof. Ersheim
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James Troutman ...
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Storyline

Dr Tomlin is a psychiatrist. One of his patients is a former professor (Prof. Ersheim) who is convinced that there is another whole number which is meant to exist between 3 and 4. While Ersheim is sectioned and struggling to work out this number, Tomlin experiences some strange things and a memory from his youth of a car crash is triggered. Written by bob the moo

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15 June 2012 (USA)  »

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Has the gloss but is lazy in the substance
14 April 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Dr Tomlin is a psychiatrist. One of his patients is a former professor (Prof. Ersheim) who is convinced that there is another whole number which is meant to exist between 3 and 4. While Ersheim is sectioned and struggling to work out this number, Tomlin experiences some strange things and a memory from his youth of a car crash is triggered.

From the very start this film looks glossy, with a slow-motion car crash which it seems to act out simply for the sake of it. Although it never quite gets that fancy again, this short film keeps the pretty high production values as it plays out the rest of its plot, which is essentially an episode of the Twilight Zone. On the surface all is well and the plot interested me as I knew it must have a kick in the tail waiting for me, but the problem is that the kick, when it comes, is not really connected to anything apart from by the thinnest thread. This means that the film essentially jumps from one scene to the reveal without any real development – it is an ending that wants to be Twelve Monkeys or something similar to that but never really gets to it. Instead it really just goes from the suggestion that there is a secret number and that it is a conspiracy by higher beings, to an ending that certainly would suggest something odd happened.

Without the development or build towards this, it doesn't really work and it is a shame that the effort that went into the film didn't focus more on how to play out the idea in a way that engages, intrigues and satisfies – even if it does do the first two to a certain extent. In terms of casting both Jones and Nowicki feel like cheaper versions of what the makers were aiming for and generally they are functional but no more. Interesting to note that the director of this film (Levy) was also the director of Blender created Sintel, a very different film and one that suggests a man keen to explore all avenues.

The film does have the gloss for sure, with effects and atmosphere well done, but unfortunately the conclusion doesn't satisfy as it just seems dropped in after the scriptwriters "yada yada'd" everything that led up to it. A shame – it wants to be Twilight Zone but ultimately it doesn't make the most of the idea and the tone to develop nicely into a clever and satisfying ending, preferring just to jump to the idea regardless of whether it works or not.


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