Movie Musing: Future Boyfriend or Past Romance?

Sci-Fi Short Film “Future Boyfriend”

A boy, a girl, a time travel app and a date. Curious?

I’m not sure what’s most impressive – a time travel app which means that time travel is readily available for the masses, or that it works under an impressive 15G phone network!

But back to the characters, Stuart and Kaylie, because this is where the story and the interesting connotations lie! Future Boyfriend has a simple premise, but there’s a lot wrapped up in here to consider! 🙂

It all began when…

I’m no expert in dating, but it seems to me that Stuart does everything wrong on this first date, but I’ve got to give it to him…he gets the girl!

It wasn’t just the cutting her food thing or calling her Miss Landon, but by killing her positive outlook on her future. (Yes, he tells her about her future – usually a no-no in visits back in time – but not here!)

In a way Stuart’s knowledge of Kaylie’s future is instrumental in winning her over, but not in the repetitive and iterative way that we see in movies such as the One Minute Time Machine. The difference here is that Kaylie sees her future, doesn’t like it, and wants to change it.

And according to Stuart the chance is absolutely possible.

Grandfather Paradox

Stuart travels back in time because he falls in love with the childless Kaylie who resides in a nursing home. When he tells her this, the information isn’t well received, but on consideration Kaylie agrees to date Stuart and efforts are made to reshape this future.

Grandfather paradox?

The Grandfather paradox kicks in because if the couple are successful in changing Kaylie’s future (i.e. she doesn’t wind up being in a state run nursing home) Stuart wouldn’t have come back into the past to meet her and go on a date.

And with a Stuart-less life she’d end up as a lonely spinster.

It’s not you, it’s me

Maybe the explanation is that the past has already happened.

In this case, Stuart was unsuccessful in maintaining a relationship with Kaylie / Miss Landon and she still ends up in the nursing home. For example, maybe she doesn’t pursue her photography career because Stuart said that it wouldn’t amount to more than a passing hobby. Or maybe he continually annoys with his knowledge of the future, like how she needs to take better care of her teeth.

If we can forgive the difference in spelling, I can’t help thinking of the 1985 song “Kayleigh” by Marillion:

“Kayleigh is it too late to say I’m sorry?
And Kayleigh could we get it together again?
I just can’t go on pretending that it came to a natural end.”

Time for a decision?

There’s a fork moment in this movie where there are two outcomes. One is where Kaylie storms out of the restaurant, and sees Stuart again in 50 years. The other option is where she returns and decides to make herself a new future and where she doesn’t become the old lady Stuart knows.

Fork 2

(I’m allowed to do things out of order on a time travel site! 😉 )

Given this latter condition – which is where the movie plot takes us – if she doesn’t become the lady Stuart is in love with then that may call into question the likelihood of success of their upcoming long term relationship. It almost seems like pre-determination that things are going to go wrong for them because this is the very future Kaylie is hoping to avoid. She may as well take Fork 1.

Fork 1

This is the default do nothing case, but let’s back-track. Stuart tells Kaylie that there was a click between him and Miss Lander. The assumption is that this was a romantic click which ultimately leads him to dangerously travel back in time (“where the age difference wasn’t so great!” 😉 ).

But wait! I wonder if this isn’t a signal that she had already met him in her past?

If this is true then I feel sorry for Stuart because he doesn’t get the girl in the end; the first fork option was taken where he meets Kaylie 50 years later. The young Stuart isn’t with Kaylie.

Stuart was left stranded at the restaurant and seeing as the time travel app he used was one-way we assume he’s stuck in the past.

Stuart is stuck in the past
Is Stuart stuck in the past?

Stuart

Fork 1 didn’t happen – but in considering it, the question of what happens to Stuart is raised.

He’s born in 2050 and in 2078 he comes back 63 years in time to the present which makes it 2015 now. He’s got 35 years until he’s born again. There seems to be a thing about not being able to meet yourself so is he destined to come to an untimely end before 2050?

Indeed, if he dies early and a heartbroken Kaylie refuses to see any other man afterwards then she’d reach her old age being single…

Or do we go with the premise that we’re now changing the future (“we can do it differently this time”) so he’s growing old into a future where he wasn’t born in 2050 and therefore won’t meet himself because he doesn’t exist there?

Back to Front

In the realms of time travel we’re often confronted with the idea of changing history. Kaylie asks it too – “Do you need to stop an assassination or kill the next Hitler?”. Future Boyfriend is already set in (Stuart’s) history and ultimately looks at the changes which can be made in the future.

This is an interesting turn around, because there’s a school of thought that the past has already happened and cannot be changed. But if the past is actually the present (as it is for Kaylie) are the couple right in assuming that there’s an element of free will?

The point is further complicated from Kaylie’s point of view. She knows what happens in the future, because for Stuart it’s already happened. So it’s a ‘past future’, and on a similar argument, can it be changed? Then again from Kaylie’s point of view the future has not happened yet, and in which case she has free will.

We can go around in circles thinking about which moment in time should our absolute viewpoint be and what constitutes events which have already happened and are therefore inflexible. Sadly, I think it’s Stuart who end up going round and round in temporal circles.

Final message

A whole new future ahead of us

We don’t know for sure how Miss Landers and Stuart meet. Does Miss Landers remember meeting the young Stuart 50 years ago in the restaurant? Similarly we don’t know whether Kaylie and Stuart have a successful relationship into that same future, or (as they hope) an entirely different one. There are many open questions.

Whatever the case, Stuart and Kaylie tackle it head on; today affects tomorrow. Whether knowing what tomorrow brings in advance is helpful or not is a complicated issue!

In this short movie we see a move from what could be a cheesy chat up line “Hey babe I’m from the future” to a cheesy message – but one which I still think is important:

We can shape our future.

Paul

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