It’s really rare that I go backwards and review movies. I’m still working on a Donnie Darko review… but that is definitely the exception to the norm. That is for sure. Generally I hunt down crazy new movies that are about to come out or have just recently hit the cinemas. But today I’m bringing you a movie that definitely is worth going backwards for. The movie is called Frequencies, and it is a genre busting flick that will keep you on your toes.
Let’s start off by giving those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet with a spoiler free overview – then let’s punt all the Frequencies noobs out, and then we’ll go for the juggler. Nope. I’m pretty certain I meant jugular there. I’m a juggler, I have a jugular. Two very different things. Yay English!
Regardless, today I want to introduce you to a movie that I near 100% certain that you’ve never heard of. (Although it was one of you that tipped me to the movie… whoever that was, you have my sincerest appreciation, even though I can’t remember which of you it was!) It’s a movie about love, and barriers, and love conquering those barriers… or maybe it’s about something entirely different!?! We’ll see.
Frequencies Movie Overview
Frequencies is a movie that is world that is similar to ours… and yet not? It’s a world of magic and not. A world where someone’s frequency, or Luckiness Quotient, is measured and prioritized. So instead of measuring IQ, in the world of Frequencies, the student’s ability is measured by how life will hand them good things. IQ is only a factor of their ability to be lucky. And in this world, we see that High Frequency people cannot mix with Low Frequency people… or else very bad things will start happening. Like planes falling out of the sky… and such.
Frequencies is a movie about a very very high frequency girl and a very very low frequency guy falling in love. It’s a tale about the inner workings of magic and the undergirding scaffolding that supports and maintains these magical frequencies. It’s a movie about destiny, and changing your fate in spite of the terrible hand that you’ve been dealt. I also see it as a movie about prejudices and biases… more specifically about our preconceived notions about said prejudices. “Low frequency people shouldn’t attend our school… Low frequency people shouldn’t date my daughter… Low frequency people don’t deserve a chance…” which is a not too veiled attempt to dialogue about race and position possibility.
But not to be out done, Frequencies might also be about con-men and potentially gaming said system as well. But you are just going to have to watch the movie first before we can really get into all of that. Let’s check out the trailer for the film and you can decide for yourself what you think.
Pretty tight eh? Great little flick right there. Makes me want to go back and watch it all over again right now. But alas. I have to write this review instead! But you don’t have to write this review! I’m doing the writing. So you go watch the movie and don’t keep reading or I’ll spoil it for you! Go on. We are all patiently awaiting your return. This is your last warning before we dive deep deep beneath the covers of this movie. Ok? Great. But it really is a fantastically clever little movie that is without a doubt worth your time. I adored it. (Now go!)
Frequencies Movie Basic Rules Overview
FREQUENCY DEFINED –
Now that we’ve redirected the lesser Frequency folks amongst us (See what I did there?)… let’s get down to it shall we? So the movie begins at an academy of some sort. A gifted and talented school for the Frequency Gifted. At least, that is what I assumed it was at first. We are introduced to Marie (Eleanor Wyld) and Zak (Daniel Fraser) right away – but they are to be star-crossed lovers. We learn quickly that they are so different, and so out of synchronicity that their nature limits their closeness to exactly a minute. As I’ve stated before, anything longer and the world begins to rebel against them. It begins subtly, teacher interruptions and then escalates quickly from there all the way to full blown catastrophes.
So in this world… though we don’t know much, we do know that High Frequencies and Low Frequencies do not mix. We also have learned through the first 20 or 30 minutes of the movie that one cannot simply change their Frequency. Once you have been deemed Low Frequency, you are stuck for good. Like a bad penny, you are destined to live your life slumming around the planet hoping for the least terrible thing possible. And if you are a High Frequency sort you are blessed with good fortune after good fortune. No waiting in line for a seat a restaurant. No missing your train.
Frequency Balancing Words –
We then learn that Zak has discovered “The Technology” (or more appropriately, rediscovered) words and phrases that counterbalance these Frequency Disparities. Through a lot of research and investigation, Zak begins learning how to manipulate the Frequency Continuum by utilizing The Technology and in so doing he is able to balance out an individual’s Frequencies through these random words. By using this technique, Zak and Marie are able to spend more and more time together than their normal minute allotment yearly.
Words of Power –
But it’s quickly discovered that The Technology is more complicated than that. Sure enough, the words balance out Frequency disparity. But it also has the effect of forcing the user hearing the word to do the very last thing the person said. For example, “You will love me, I know you will, armadillo.” would force the hearer to love the speaker of the key word Armadillo. Right? The listener has no will of their own in this regard. “Slap me, armadillo.” would also result in the speaker getting slapped. Which is exactly what we saw happening as the mechanics become more apparent. So the question we have here, is the Frequency actually getting dropped lower, or is their will incapable of resistance, and therefore all of the Frequency Continuum is incapable of resistance as well? Is it a word of general power and influence? Or is it a leveler of Frequency? Or is it one, with a side effect of the other?
Music as Time Machines –
This brings us to Theo’s timeline. Up until this point, everything was all about the ability to manipulate the Frequency Continuum via random key words. But with Theo, we see that music actually takes an entirely different tact and is the counterbalance, or antidote to The Technology. Mozart and key musicians learned this years ago, and Theo recently rediscovered it, that through certain musical constructs the user would be able to see backwards in time. And not only would he be able to see, but he’d be able to respond deftly in order to manipulate the situation to his own best interest. And in so doing Theo becomes this deterministic megalomaniacal crazy person. Right? He is always 5 steps ahead of everyone and even casts aside a conversation with his own father.
Frequencies But What Does It All Mean Man?!?
Some reviews of the movie Frequencies say that the movie is wonderful, until the final act. That the final third, the Theo Third (come on, that alliteration was all-kinds of alluminating! hahahah) was disappointing. But could it be that those reviewers just didn’t track with the movie, and how the sections built on one another? Could it be that you, the viewer (who typed into Google to get here “what the hell was that movie Frequencies all about dammmmit!!”) didn’t really understand it either? Maybe. Maybe. We shall see won’t we? Why don’t we go through a couple Frequencies Movie Theories and see if there is one that can explain it all, and pull it all together. Ok?
Frequencies Theory #1 – Literalism
Basically everything here is explained as an accident. We accidentally have several different lines of thought here and nothing is interconnected here at all. Right? Zak accidentally learned about The Technology and Theo accidentally learned about The Music. And both have these separate powers. And each one controlled people differently for their own ends and purposes. Zak controlled Marie. Theo controlled his father. End of story. Ne’er the twain shall they meet. Which leaves us wondering… um. Why? The ending is weird then? What was the point of the two different modes of power. Totally agree.
Frequencies Theory #2 – The Triptych
The next theory is that of the Triptych. This theory asserts that we have three different powers underlying everything and that these three powers were set from the foundation of the Frequency’s inception to war for control. That these powers were going to be found – and that they would struggle to gain mastery over the other. The Technology can minimize and counter balance the laws of Frequencies. High Frequencies have power and control over other Lower Frequencies (Marie needs 20 quid, she finds 20 quid… etc). And the Music can countermand and counteract the effects of The Technology. Each of the three realities co-exist with the others and are determined to check one another. The point of the ending is to show that these different powers work for and against each other. Marie represents the power of the Frequencies. Zak represents the power of The Technology. And Theo represents the power of The Music. It’s a never ending cycle of interloping cycles via for control.
Frequencies Theory #3 – Predeterminism
This third theory is simple enough and might be the most obvious view of the movie. Well, to me anyway, which basically means, I’m in the minority, and I take the first sentence back! hahah.
So in this Predeterministic theory everything in the world of the Frequencies is pre-determined fatalism. Marie controls everything in her world. She needs a train, there it is. She needs someone to show her how to love, there is Zak. Zak needs to come to terms with this, this lack of control. Then he finds The Technology, and Marie is the one coming to terms with this lack of control. Zak and Maria realize that Music can countermand both The Technology and Frequencies both… and they have to come to terms with this determinism in their lives. Theo is the only one in the movie that has free-will, that can see the future and can change it. But the point of the movie from this vantage is that everything is controlled by a higher power and that their role in this structure is to just come to terms with this reality.
There is quite the parallel here between this theory and that of many theological debates. Arguments of Free-Will and Determinism are a pretty important bedrock to solve before you can move up to some of the more complicated discussions. Can a God who knows everything allow others to choose on their own? Is foreknowledge the same as predetermination?
Three theories. Sort of seems to me like a good place to stop, no? Well, I never know when to stop. So I can tell you now that I’ve got one more up my sleeve. But I really do think that that Predeterminism is the larger point of the movie. Is this exact theory the correct way to view the movie? Maybe. Or maybe not. Alright alright… I’ll throw you my personal favorite theory about the movie.
Frequencies Theory #4 – The Mobius Theory
When the door of time travel in any strain or form gets opened all kinds of craziness can happen. Don’t buy what I’m selling? Check out Time Lapse, or maybe Time Crimes, but most importantly Primer. What is weird, is that most time travel movies declare it up front and call it out. But this movie comes into it’s time-travel-ness from a sideways glance and at the end to boot. But the moment a movie treads out into the land of time travel make-believe all bets are off. I even went so far as to chat with the actor who played Theo and asked him a few questions about how to reconcile all these moving parts in this movie…
THiNC. – “One thing I am trying to understand is the musical section & the last third of the movie. Is Theo the only one who has free will or is that an illusion?”
Owen Pugh – “It’s a tricky one to answer really. But essentially Theo has discovered how to control it, and thus how to control people.”
THiNC. – “As a follow up to the previous question – could there be someone that has found 10 minutes of musical insight (or more), who is controlling Theo ultimately?”
Owen Pugh – “I’d have to say no, there isn’t anything in the script that really suggests this. Although if it makes sense, why not?”
THinc. – “Or! was the apple roll at the beginning changed & controlled from the end by Theo? Need a grand unifying theory for Frequencies!”
Owen Pugh – “ha! Well I’m going to leave that one up to you. One of my favourite things about the film is the questions it doesn’t answer…..”
Which brings us to the heart of the Mobius Theory… that Frequencies is actually a loop. It begins at the end, with Theo learning how to control time via music. At first he can only manipulate five minutes worth of time, and then eventually he is able to go deeper and deeper. And eventually, it is future Theo, that gets his younger self to kick the apple to Marie for Zak, which starts the entire storyline off. It’s a tight theory that then includes the ending and the beginning. Without this sort of a loop the musical section of Theo never ties back in to the rest of the movie. IMHO. But with Theo starting everything off it makes the larger discussion around predestination make more sense, and tie it all together.
Frequencies Movie Conclusions
I love/adore little movies like this that make you think… make you consider your place. Reminds me very much of the movie, The One I Love. Which was a Mark Duplass flick that was ad-libbed into being and has a hook to end all hooks. And just like that, this movie causes you to consider the larger ramifications of free will and determinism. This movie comes down squarely on the side of our inability to make choices and decisions on our own. We are forced/determined… we are guided by something that controls our decisions and our thinking. But even in the face of that, do we choose to be overcome by this? Or to revel in the opportunities to love regardless? Do we choose to hold a grudge about our lack of free will? Or are we going to drink deeply from the well of life and experience it regardless?
I personally am going to choose to drink deeply. And you? What are your thoughts on the movie? Can you make sense of it?
Edited by, CY