Time Zone Inn
R0 - America - indiepix
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (5th April 2020).
The Film

Preparing for a long distance relationship, actor Enzo (Marco Cassini) and teacher Mina (The Girl in the Fog's Lucrezia Guidone) arrive at the Time Zone Inn, a bed and breakfast in which the rooms represent different time zones and the guests must adhere to a set of rules according to owner Libera (Tainted Souls's Paolo Perinelli): to diet on the native foods of their time zone, they must never enter each other's rooms, and to spend no more than two hours in each other's company. Mina picks Paris and Enzo picks London, but Big Ben and bangers and mash compare poorly to Notre Dame and hot croissants, and Enzo quickly breaks the rules to visit Mina; whereupon some of the real worries about the future of their relationship come to the fore. Mina has been unable to find work at universities in Italy but has had offers from Paris. She feels guilty about sponging off of her retired parents but wants to know if she has "the balls" to leave them behind. Although Enzo claims that he cannot sleep without her beside him anymore, his reluctance to travel and learn other languages betrays a provincial attitude that seems at odds with his ambitions as an actor. Also experiencing jetlag, they discover, is Catia (It's About to Rain's Giulia Rupi), a freelance photographer staying in Beijing while her accountant boyfriend Marco (Human Capital's Giovanni Anzaldo) is in Berlin. The couples once again break the rules to sup together and learn about one another. Like Mina, Marco has only had offers in another country for business while Catia seems less determined about her next step outside their relationship. The arrival of Libera's niece Gaia (Eat Pray Love's Elena Arvigo) causes immediate tension as her claim that she loves two men is met with volatile incredulity by Catia who suggests that Gaia just has not found true love yet. Gaia counters that each partner supplies something the other cannot, and that there is no such thing as the perfect person; and as soon as one settles on another as the perfect partner that they start transforming their own reality at the cost of their own true selves. The argument escalates, much to the embarrassment of the others whose glances betray whose side they are on, and Catia storms off. Later that night, Marco wakes Mina and tells her he cannot find Catia but her things and her car are still there. The next day, Mina visits Gaia in the nearby villa while Libera discovers Catia's whereabouts. Gaia tells Mina of the upbringing that has allowed her to love and be loved by more than one person while Libera tells Catia the history of the Time Zone Inn and its clientele. While Mina seems on the verge of making a decision about her relationship with Enzo, Catia comes to believe that there is something more nefarious in the challenges and provocations the Time Zone Inn presents to couples.

Extremely slight at less than seventy minutes without opening and closing credits, Time Zone Inn (the English title onscreen following the Italian one Senza Distanza) is nonetheless incredibly thought-provoking if one does not read too far into the film's anthropological opening text about the world's transition from matrilineal to patrilineal kinship ties with the move from nomadism to agriculture and man's requirement for proof of paternity as the birth of the couple faithful unto death about the barriers we erect between us and big changes out of fear, be it fear of change or fear of abandonment and loneliness. Although they come to the bed and breakfast ostensibly as a trial run for a long distance relationship, Mina admits that she wants to know if she has "the balls" to turn down a job in Paris. When they first meet Catia, Mina also seems less concerned with whether Enzo is actually attracted to her than pushing him at her to "test" their jealousy. After learning something of the history of the Time Zone Inn and making some discoveries including a literal family tree of a sort Catia forces her own test on the other three, pushing them to unequivocally state whether they would leave Italy and their partner for a dream job, cementing the similarities between herself and Enzo in contrast to Marco and Mina, with Catia's seeming as less driven in her freelance photography work as Enzo with his acting while Marco is willing to abandon his music career for job security. Catia sees the matrilineal philosophy of the innkeepers as a way of breaking up couples for their own ends. Gaia believes that men run away but eventually return to the earth which is woman, although that does not necessarily imply female passivity since it is Mina who wishes to wander and Enzo who may be figuratively running away in his own aimlessness while possibly being left behind when Mina asserts that being with her is embracing her new beliefs. The ending asks the viewer to ponder whether actual betrayal or the possibility of betrayal can nudge a character rendered passive by fear into new directions. While the time zone room concept is entirely non-fantastical, the film does have the feeling of the old school brand of science fiction dealing with humanity's physical and psychological adaptation to either alien worlds or the alienating effects of advancing technology; and in a sense, the film suggests that a turn away from the traditional conception of couples made possibly by or making possible new kinds of nomadic existences might also mean a return to matrilineal kinship bonds or a new version of that concept. Heady stuff for a film of long contemplative (acoustically-scored) silences of attractive people basking in sunny Italian scenery, but it may be that Time Zone Inn allows the viewer to read more into it than is really there and contemplate one's own choices and whether they are motivated by fear or love.
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Video

Shot in high definition, Time Zone Inn is given a perfectly serviceable single-layer, anamorphic encode on this single-layer burned-on-demand DVD-R (the uncompressed LPCM stereo track eating as much into the video bitrate given the brevity of the film). Bright scenes look clean and scenes color-corrected to look warmer retain their delineation of colors and shades, while a higher bitrate or just a more diligent encode might have made more of the scenes with darker grading (which were almost certainly brighter on the set).
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Audio

Indiepix not keeping 5.1 mixes is not unusual, but it seems more likely that the original mix for this film is stereo, and the LPCM 2.0 track sound perfectly good in terms of dialogue clarity and scoring. English subtitles are encoded into the image as usual for the company.
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Extras

The sole extra is a trailer (0:15) that is actually a promo for Indiepix itself rather than the film.
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Overall

For a film of long contemplative (acoustically-scored) silences of attractive people basking in sunny Italian scenery, it may be that Time Zone Inn allows the viewer to read more into it than is really there and contemplate one's own choices and whether they are motivated by fear or love.

 


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