Remember to finish your story – Why the movie “Timer” failed

Hubbs recently rented the movie “Timer”. It had all the squishy romance stuff he likes, plus a little Speculative Fiction twist to make me happy.

The premise is that an invention has hit the world where on your 14th birthday, you have the option of having a device implanted in your wrist that will “Count Down” to the day when you will meet your soul mate.

Very Neat Plot Device.  I was interested.

The story is cute and sweet as a woman in her thirties living with sister both date and wait for their timers to start “ticking”.

Despite the sound problems in the move, which had my husband and I asking “what did he say” – we really enjoyed the first 99% of the movie.  It was well done, and a great twist at the end that had us both saying “No Way!”

**So why did it fail?**

Stories need closure.  Without closure, there really is no story, is there?  It’s like being forced to read a book, but not getting the final chapter.  It’s annoying.

As the camera zooms away from our protagonist, and the music starts to get louder, I was happy to hear my husband say “They are NOT going to end it there, are they?”

Yep sweetie, apparently they are.  I was glad that he was as miffed as I was.  Here lies the problem:

***Spoiler alert from here until the next bold.***

Stop reading now if you don’t want to know the end of the movie…

During the move, both sisters fall in love.  Our main character falls in love with a much younger man in a rock band, and gives his CD to her estranged father, a record promoter.

Problem #1:  Why even have her do this if you are never going back to this plot line.  We don’t know if he signed them, or if he hated them.  They make a big deal of it, and it is never mentioned again – NO CLOSURE

Problem #2:  The MC’s timer goes off at her birthday party, while she is looking at her sister’s boyfriend.  His timer goes off too.  – Her sister is very upset.  She’s heartbroken.  I can’t blame her. We never see the sisters or the boyfriend really reconcile, and the sister, who we’ve grown to love, is left unhappy. – NO CLOSURE

Problem #3:  We watched the MC fall in love with the musician.  They are better people when they are together. We LOVE them together. Despite their differences, we are rooting for them.– He is left crying, saying the MC broke his heart (We don’t even know if he got a recording contract out of it) – NO CLOSURE

Problem #4: We don’t even know if the MC and her soul mate get together.  It’s left open. No closure in a big and unforgivable way for me.

Nothing is sewn up.  I’m even left HATING the MC because she left the man she loves for someone she doesn’t know, leaving him distraught and crying… and also, in my opinion, stabbing her sister/best friend in the back by considering a relationship with her boyfriend, and not even seeming upset by all of this.

***End spoiler alert***

It was really frustrating for me.  The only good thing about this is it’s making me comb through my novel and make sure I tie up EVERY loose end.   As a creative artist, I don’t want anyone feeling this way about my work.

Great premise.  Great story. Great execution. Poor attempt at a surprise ending.




15 responses to “Remember to finish your story – Why the movie “Timer” failed

  1. Rita Kárpáti

    Although I also found the ending of the film terribly annoying, it also made me think I was watching something more than just an average romantic comedy. I mean a satisfying ending is fine, but we have seen loads of that. Real life is much closer to this annoying uncertainty depicted in the film. Of course it is weird to talk about reality in case of a romantic movie about fictional love-count down machines, but still…this ending digs deeper in the real sh*t. It shows us an ideal world where everyone has a perfect match, then completely destroys it and leaves us as unsatisfied as the main characters. This is so bad to watch that I’d call it genius.:)

  2. I totally agree. I hate loose ends. It’s like the gun on the mantle that’s never used. 😦

  3. Great post. There’s definitely a fine line between leaving loose ends simply because sometimes that’s how life goes and leaving loose ends that make your readers think you were too lazy or ill-experienced to bother seeing your story through to the end. I don’t know if you’ve read the Lemony Snicket series, but WOW did he leave a HUGE loose end just dangling with the excuse, Meh, sometimes it’s better not to know. Say WHAT?!?

  4. Wow! Now I want to go through and check for loose ends. That must have been really disappointing.

  5. I saw this movie about a year ago and I thought the exact same thing about it. I thought the premise was awesome but I hated the ending (or lack thereof?).

  6. Hm. I was just bumped out here. I’ll try again.
    I’ve experienced this displeasure a time or two and been left frustrated. I’ll be more careful in future myself.
    Thanks for the review, Jennifer.

  7. Wow, that sounds so disappointing! I had never heard of that one, but your observations and conclusions make sense to me. Don’t think I’ll bother watching that one. And you’re right about loose ends. I don’t need everything tied up neatly at the end of a book, but I think things should at least be addressed. I hate wondering whether an author just forgot about a subplot.

  8. Great post Jennifer, it’s certainly made me think about my writing. But I must admit, although I agree it is important to tie up loose ends that make no sense, I sometimes like not knowing exactly what happens.
    ******SPOILER ALERT*******
    Some of the best endings to a film can be when we do not know exactly what will happen to our protagonists. For example, in the original version of The Italian Job, the end is literally hanging on the edge of a cliff or the end of Inception closing in on the spinning top questions if we have been left in the conscious world or a dream. I don’t always like having an ending spoon-fed to me. Sometimes (not always) I find it fun being left with questions that the writer wants me to figure out for myself. It’s getting the balance right between satisfying the audience and intriguing them at the end and therein lies the art of the craft, I suppose.

    Although it does sound like a very poorly executed concept for a film and I will not be seeking that one out! 🙂