PARALLEL MINDS: 2 STARS. “female characters keep the story moving forward.”
“Parallel Minds,” now on VOD, is a mystical murder mystery with a high-tech twist.
Set in the near future, the action begins during an important presentation for Red Eye, a new device capable of accessing memories. “A contact lens,” announces inventor Conrad Stallman (Neil Napier) at the product launch, “that records not what the eye can see but hat the mind can remember.
“We are made up of our experiences and the memories of those experiences. Now, your memories are no longer a thing of the past. Be where you remember being. See old friends, family.”
Stallman’s sales pitch is compelling but backstage there are problems. “It’s not ready,” says Red Eye’s head programmer Elise Perrott (Michelle Thrush) as she scurries away, returning to her lab. There she gives her best friend, Metis researcher Margo Elson (Tommie-Amber Pirie), the secret password for her work computer. “Consider yourself my back up plan,” she says ominously.
The next morning, after a tormented sleep, Margo awakens to the news that Elise has been found dead in her lad of an apparent suicide.
Investigating the case is Thomas Elliot (Greg Bryk), a troubled police officer who, when asked if he is the detective on the case, snarls, “Till someone tells me otherwise.” He’s a tough guy (who drinks expired milk) with a habit doing things like inexplicably kicking open the already open door to Elise’s apartment. “You know you could have just asked me for the key to the door,” says Margot, arriving a second later. Or perhaps he could have just used the doorknob, but either way, he’s a walking cliché. The two agree to work together, he’ll do the police work, she’ll help him navigate the high-tech aspects of Elise’s work.
Secrets abound and there’s suspicion and skullduggery around every corner. The brand-new technology has a serious glitch, a shady multi-national security company is hiding something and Thomas has more baggage than the cargo hold of a 747. But there’s more. A hacker named Jade Drayton (Madison Walsh) hints at something huge. “You’ve wandered into a war no one knows is being waged. A war of conscience and knowledge.”
A return to Margo’s childhood home, the scene of trauma, forces her to confront old memories that may hold the key to solving the mystery of Elise’s death.
Benjamin Ross Hayden, the Métis director, writer, producer and actor from Calgary, weaves together a story that embraces new and old. Margo is a scientist but it is her connection to and belief in Indigenous traditions that gives her the inner strength to get to the bottom of the mystery of “Parallel Minds.”
Cliched and melodramatic dialogue mars the film, which is a shame because the female characters have great promise. Margo, Jade and Elise are interesting people and the engines that keep “Parallel Minds” moving forward.
“Parallel Minds” shows promise. There are many cool ideas here but they are hampered by a modest budget unable to realize the set pieces Hayden offers up. There’s stylish photography and some good location work but the film’s ambition outstrips its execution.