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Blu-Ray : Give it a Rent
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Release Date: August 5th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

I'll Follow You Down

Overview -

An accomplished physicist (Rufus Sewell) mysteriously disappears on a business trip. Abandoned, his wife (Gillian Anderson) and son Erol (Haley Joel Osment) struggle to cope. Years later, now a young scientist himself, Erol uncovers papers, formulas, a machine, and a mind-bending possibility. But time travel is impossible. Isn't it? Erol's obsession to find his father and restore his family will throw him into the unknown and possibly threaten his life. What would you do to repair the past?

Give it a Rent
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Video Resolution/Codec:
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Special Features:
Making-of and Deleted Scenes
Release Date:
August 5th, 2014

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Reviewed by Daniel S. Lee

'I'll Follow You Down' is an awkward mishmash of serious family melodrama and lightweight science fiction, resulting in a movie that falls considerably short in both genres.   The story follows the breakdown of an ideal and academically oriented family, when Gabe (Rufus Sewell, whose British-accented mumblings can be unintelligible at times), a brilliant scientist and devoted husband, mysteriously disappears during a business trip.  Naturally, his loss has shattered the lives of his family including wife Marika (played with dignity by Gillian Anderson), father-in-law and professor Sal (Victor Garber), son Erol (Haley Joel Osmet) and Erol’s girlfriend, Grace (Susanna Fournier).

After a poignant introduction to the characters, the movie jumps twelve years into the “present,” but the emotions remain solemn.  Now an adult, Erol has learned to deal with the circumstances surrounding his family’s loss, which includes foregoing admission to M.I.T. so he can care for his depressed and suicidal mother, and remain with his childhood love.  However, his grandfather Sal discloses a method of time-travel originally developed by his father and urges his grandson to follow-up on his work.  Sal theorizes that Gabe’s absence was never meant to be, and that only by going into the past and rescuing him can their unfortunate reality be corrected, especially when it comes to Marika’s declining mental health.  Of course, Erol is torn between helping his pleading grandfather, and acquiescing to his girlfriend Grace, who implores him not to fool around with their destiny.

Along with exploring the five main characters, 'I’ll Follow You Down' also touches on those common questions one associates with changing history:  What if my life turned out differently?  What if we could prevent events or alter actions which shape the course of our destiny?  What would the sacrifice be to those around us if we selfishly wanted to change our fate?  Unfortunately, those abstractions are merely given superficial treatment and become muddled amidst the disjointed and self-important scientific exposition, which only cheapens the otherwise touching human drama.

In fact, if it weren’t for the likable and sympathetic characters, 'I’ll Follow You Down' would otherwise be a dismissible movie going experience.  Simply stated, backward time travel is a flawed premise where any imagined dramatic ramifications simply won’t make sense.   The very idea that someone could travel back in history and make changes which affect present or future events leads to paradoxes and inconsistencies in logic that render the whole hypothetical results to be speculative, futile, and ultimately irrelevant. That’s not to say that time-travel shouldn’t be explored in cinema. When it comes to mainstream movies, time-travel can be used entertainingly (as with the first two 'Back To The Future' movies, 'Somewhere In Time', 'Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home', 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past'), or awkwardly ('Superman' and 'Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut') or insipidly ('Timecop' and 'The Time Machine') all for the sake of escapist entertainment.  But when used as a device for a doggedly realistic story dripping with pathos, the effect trivializes the characters and their emotional experience.

'I’ll Follow You Down' does touch upon the idea of alternate realities due to separate timelines, but it doesn’t resolve the obvious flaw in the Sal's belief that their current reality has somehow been corrupted (other than the fact that he doesn't like what is happening around him).  Further, the movie does not give any hint as to what the "corrected" timeline should be.   This plot device also nullifies some of the more challenging conflicts faced by the characters, particularly Grace.  Her current life isn’t so bad (she's in love, headed towards higher education, and plans to settle down), and she has the most to lose and less to gain by changing the only existence she knows. There might have been more emotional resonance to the film if we had some idea as to whether Grace (and everyone else for that matter) turned out to live happier-ever-after in the end, but the movie literally stops short of going further.

Instead, the ‘I’ll Follow You Down’ spends too much time discussing the theories of time travel in stereotypical mumbo-jumbo form.  ('Back To The Future' very cleverly and logically explained how traveling to the future would be possible --- namely, that the Delorean time machine could skip one minute ahead in time by displacing itself from the present --- but conveniently avoided any details as to how the past could be reached.)   The film serves up montages of the main characters poring over blueprints, designs and drawings, filling entire blackboards with convoluted equations, and throwing around buzzwords and technical terms like "negative energy," "cosmic strings," "wormhole," "Cartesian," and "quantum mechanics" all in an attempt to validate an unworkable proposition.  One pivotal scene shows Erol finding inspiration out of the blue from a spinning globe, and the viewer instantly knows that they’re being taken for a technical ride to nonsense.  And when the end result is a time machine which looks like a cross between something out of Doctor Who and David Cronenberg’s 'The Fly' (or even more accurately, a Stewie Griffin creation from 'Family Guy'), one can’t help but roll his eyes at the absurdity.
Even with a compact 93-minute running time, the movie feels a lot longer as we watch the leisurely paced drama unfold.  Yet the final act feels malnourished and rushed, particularly during the climax, where father and son are eventually reunited in the past.  One scene where the two talk at some 1940’s café awkwardly recalls the memorable scene in 'Back To The Future' where Marty McFly first encounters his young, cowardly father George, but isn’t nearly as effective.  What should have been a touching and emotional moment between the two is cheapened by trite dialogue and rather blank responses by both actors.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'I'll Follow You Down' is packaged in a standard Blu-ray case with no slipcase, no  booklet, no toy time machine (unless it got lost in the past) or any other special packaging.  The film is presented in 16:9 widescreen (1920 x 1080 progressive picture resolution) with MPEG-4 AVC encoding and is closed caption in English only.

Video Review


Presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen ratio, this letterboxed Blu-ray picture is without any apparent flaws, and presents the lovely cinematography by Tico Poulakakis nicely.  Though produced on a limited budget with only a few outdoor scenes, the film never takes on a cheap or cheesy "shot-on-video" look even though it was shot digitally.  The movie’s inherent grain structure is kept intact, with muted colors  and overall soft visuals, all of which are appropriate for what is basically a talking heads drama.  It's refreshing to watch a movie in which settings don’t look artificially tweaked, and where people don’t look like they were airbrushed.  Some of the darker indoor scenes lose a little detail in shadows, but does not appear to be a byproduct of the media transfer.  However, there is nothing in this high definition picture to distract a viewer involved in the story.

Audio Review


The 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack is mainly dialogue centered, with occasional rear channel activity and few low-frequency effects, with the exception of the time-travel sequences where bass is briefly emphasized.  The music soundtrack is often presented in all five channels, and is balanced well with the dialogue and other sound effects.   Overall dynamic range is limited, even during scenes where gunshots and the sounds of electrical equipment are reproduced.

Andrew Lockington’s score recalls the drama and sentimentality of Thomas Newman’s music from 'The Shawshank Redemption,' and is spotlighted exclusively in the Behind The Scenes featurette in 2.0 stereo.  While it's not a soundtrack that I might buy on CD, the music is one of the best technical elements of the movie.  This isn’t a disc to show off your latest upgrades in audiophile home theater equipment, but rather to enjoy the movie on a quiet evening without having to override the volume control.

Special Features


The animated start-up menu is preceded by three short trailers (for ‘Very Good Girls,’ ‘Kid Cannabis’ and ‘McCanick’  which are also available as part of the extra materials.   Other bonuses include three deleted scenes (which unfortunately don’t resolve the movie’s shortcomings) and a Behind The Scenes clip. 

Final Thoughts

The first thirty minutes of ‘I’ll Follow You Down’ promises a sincere and moving story about the unimaginable loss of a family member, and how a scientific miracle might change the course of such a sad fate; unfortunately, the lapses in logic and incongruous technical elements fail the story.   I applaud writer and director Richie Mehta for delivering a time-travel story that focuses on people instead of comedy or cosmic dystopia, but the final product falls short of rising above the average. This is a rental.