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Taking ‘Time’ Seriously

By Sister Helena Burns, FSP | Contributor
Sunday, November 6, 2011

"In Time” is a sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian world with a fascinating premise: The currency is not money but time. Everyone has a glowing green digital clock on the underside of their forearm that ticks off the years, days, minutes and seconds.

Poor people in the “ghetto” time zone have a short life expectancy and live from time-payment to time-payment. Rich people live in their own time zone and may have centuries. But everyone looks young because people are genetically engineered to live 25 years, and then they drop dead in one more year unless they can somehow get more time. Time can be “given” to another by a handclasp.

“In Time” was written, directed and produced by Andrew Niccol who wrote the excellent “Truman Show” and amazing “Gattaca.” However, he flounders with “In Time.” Justin Timberlake (a solid actor) is Will, a scrappy ghettodweller who is given a huge gift of time by a stranger. However, the ever-watching “timekeepers” begin tracking Will as he heads to the rich people’s time zone.

“In Time” is rather “timely” given today’s economic woes and ever-widening gap between rich and poor.

Will gets close to the uber-time-wealthy Weis family and falls in love with their sheltered daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). The head timekeeper (the mesmerizing Cillian Murphy) picks up Will for questioning, but Will escapes the timekeeper’s clutches, dragging Sylvia along with him both as intermittent hostage and love interest. They return to the ghetto where Sylvia learns how the “other half” lives and is moved to compassion.

There are constant breaks in the tension and lots of small, unnecessary, repetitive scenes. The story and dialogue are completely linear and often laughably simplistic.

However, the premise is solid and the concept of giving freely of the most precious things in life in a cutthroat culture that doesn’t understand the concept of “gift” or charity is well portrayed.

In actuality, time is the only “good,” the only “currency” we have. We just can’t know how much of it we actually have on this earth by simply glancing down at our arms.

Unfortunately, we Catholics don’t seem to emphasize the preciousness of time very much any more, or our eternal destiny and the eternal consequences of our use of time. “In Time” can make us reevaluate.