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JAMES VS HIS FUTURE SELF: 3 ½ STARS. “enough charm to create a timeless romance.”

In the early moments of “James Vs His Future Self, a metaphysical rom com starring Jonas Chernick, a character named Dr. Rowley (Frances Conroy) encapsulates the film’s premise. “A tiny change today brings a dramatic difference tomorrow.”

The story of changing your worst nature before it’s too late begins with physicist James Dolensky (Chernick) obsessed with his work. The only thing he gives a second thought to, other than his work, is his wannabe love-interest, scientist Courtney (Cleopatra Coleman). “Science is what I’m meant to do,” James says. Trouble is, Courtney is considering taking a job at CERN in Switzerland and if James doesn’t do or say something soon he may never see her again.

That’s when things get trippy. Enter a taller, larger version of James—“Time ravel does things to you.”—played by Daniel Stern. “I am also James Dolensky because I am you,” he says, “from the future. Not me, you. WE are from the future.” Current James is all in working toward presenting his ideas at a conference while Future James sees the whole picture from the perspective of a life lived.  “You do not want this life,” he says. “You don’t have a clue. There is a reason I came back now. I’m still sort of a good guy when I’m you. You take that position and that is doomsday. Your ego, your self-righteousness is going to smother all the other parts of your life. Life. Love. Joy. Family. I came back to stop you from making that mistake, one way or the other.”

Despite the time travel angle the film’s message is pretty clear. Wherever—or maybe in this case, whenever—you are, be all there. Chernick and co-writer Jeremy LaLonde (who also directed) mix it up with scientific jargon about the uncertainty principle and Schrödinger’s cat, but at its heart “James Vs His Future Self” is a story about chemistry, not in a lab but between people.

“James Vs His Future Self” doesn’t get messed up in the details of time travel. Wisely choosing to concentrate on the characters and the love story it allows the fully formed and interesting characters to do what they do without getting bogged down by the scientific wonkery. Chernick brings brains and nerdy vulnerability to Current James. Coleman transcends being simply a love interest to create the character who really drives the action but it is Stern who makes the biggest impact.

In his biggest role in years Stern brings it. Future James is a piece of work, a man who knows how high the stakes are and who will do almost anything to put Current James on the right track. It’s a wonderfully unhinged performance that gives the movie some real spark.

“James Vs His Future Self” takes a rom com premise and infuses it with just enough invention and charm to create a timeless romance.

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