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The Science Fiction Movie the Timer Raises Questions About Our Views on True Love

Updated on March 22, 2012

In recent years there has been an evident increase in the number of women interested in science fiction and fantasy. Fourty-five percent of the people watch science fiction shows are women accoring to the March 5, 2000 Los Angeles Times article "Hearing from Dearly Departed Proves a Hit on Sci Fi Channel". It has been claimed that this is because science fiction and fantasy are the last morality stories of our day. Weather of not this is true of all science fiction it is certainly true of the movie The Timer. The movie examines societies’ views of true love and how those views impact our daily lives.

The basic premise of the movie is that science has discovered a way to implant people with a timer that will count down to the day when you will meet your soul mate. Then when you make eye contact with that person it will beep. The movie then follows the lives of two sisters: one whose timer is set decades in the future and the other whose timer is blank.

With 80% of divorced and seperated people believing that marriage should be for life let us assume that you believe in the idea of true love. Let's also set aside the issue of whether or not science could ever identify true love. The movie then raises several interesting questions. Is true love something that only happens to you once? Does it have to be “true love” for you to lead a satisfying life? Have we gotten so caught up in the idea of finding “true love” that we are no longer connecting with people? How should true love affect cross cultural relationships?

The first question: Is true love something that only happens to you once? During the movie one of the sisters actually asks this question mentioning that people used to take about first loves which implies a second and possibly third and fourth love. By the end the movie seems to answer with a no. (Though they hedge their bets by not having the first love confirmed by a timer.) You can have a loving relationship that is cut short through the death of your partner then move on to form another true love relationship with someone else.

The other question that is lived out rather than asked is does it have to be true love? The first sister is involved in a series of one night stands as she waits for her timer to count down. However, she is obviously unsatisfied with her life and is going nowhere in both her personal and professional life. She is bitter at having to wait so long for true love and lets it ruin her entire life. However, by the end of the movie she begins connecting with someone and decides not to live for the time. Though in typical movie fashion that relationship is subverted, she does form a stronger bond with her sister and in general seems happier in her life after having the timer removed. However, I would have preferred a more definite example of a non-romantic relationship (aside from sisterly love) in which she could be satisfied. The movie addresses the question of whether we, as a society, have become too caught up in finding true love and this is an example of the movies producers being too caught up in the theme of romantic love to provide a valid alternative.

Which bring us to the final question, have we as a society gotten so caught up in the idea of finding “true love” that we are no longer connecting with people? The sister with the blank timer would only talk to men without timers because only they had the possibility of being her one. She would convince a man to get a timer then never see him again when the possibility of his being her true love was eliminated. The movie indicated that she needed to live in the moment – make connections with the person she was with. However, the only type of connection they showed her making was sexual. For a movie about true love there were very few instances of connection outside of a sexual connection. In fact, outside of few brief instances with the brother, the question of what is true love was never addressed.

The brother’s relationship did, however, raise an interesting question. If you knew that the love of your child’s life was cross cultural how would you handle it? Should two such disparate families attempt to blend for the sake of their children? The mothers in the movie agreed that it would be better if the children dated in secret until such time as their love forced the families to interact. The presumption being that even then they would interact only as much as absolutely necessary.

The movie did a great job raising questions about societies’ views of true love and how it impacts our lives. However, when it came to answering those questions the movie fell short. The only aspect of human relationship that was addressed with any depth was the casual sexual relationship - though the movie did show the painful fallout that such relationships bring with them. It was disappointing that the older sister was not provided with a satisfying relationship with which to fill her life while waiting for romantic love. As movie about the pursuit of true love it was fascinating and reasonably entertaining. If you've got a free evening its worth watching once.

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