Review: Coming Out with the Help of a Time Machine

Written and directed by Naman Gupta, co-written by Janki Parekh, when coming out to his traditional parents, Sid uses his time machine to reset the day trying to make sure everything goes perfect. Starring: Karan Soni, Sangeeta Agrawal and Raghuram Shetty.

Finding a person with an absolutely perfect coming out story is like discovering a unicorn, the typical experience is messy, complicated and often painful. So, it’s quite easy to see where the idea for Coming Out with the Help of a Time Machine would manifest from. It adds a funny, sit-com style edge to an otherwise emotional story. It also pushes that message of as much as we may want to change things, we can’t control everything and some things you just have to deal with, no matter how uncomfortable they are or their consequences. It hugely acknowledges the risks for someone from a traditional family, there’s no guarantee that they won’t simply be left in the cold, so making that decision to open up is incredibly difficult. Then moving onto the idea of what is most important to those family members, can they choose love for their child over their beliefs and those of others close to them?

However, while it is sweet to add that sci-fi style, it has an unfortunate dampening quality to the emotions of this story. It’s dealing with a fairly heavy topic, and undercutting it with that playfulness is a difficult balance to strike, and here it feels as though they don’t entirely succeed. The tone becomes more a case of sentimentality than sincerity. It’s also not helped by the choice of score, which is somewhat stereotypical and saccharine, unable to grasp the weight of the story. The style of direction is mostly a simple back and forth but there are some more stylish choices earlier on which then slow to match the changing tone of the story.

Karan Soni was a great choice for this role, he’s more than proved how capable he is at comedy in his career so far but he’s also skilled at turning it off when he needs to. He creates a very sympathetic and relatable atmosphere, which then becomes intensely vulnerable. While Sangeeta Agrawal and Raghuram Shetty provide exactly what’s needed, asking all the expected questions and fighting that battle between focusing on themselves versus their child’s needs and happiness. The three of them work perfectly as a family, they build an instant connection and are effortlessly convincing.

Coming Out with the Help of a Time Machine is a great concept to play with the idea of how so many wish they could perfect their coming out experience. At the same time it acknowledges how unachievable that is, and how high the stakes can be when someone makes that choice. Unfortunately, mixing that humour with the weight of the emotions at play doesn’t work entirely well, the tone can’t quite find its footing and ends up slightly undermining the sincerity. Although, the performances from Karan Soni, Sangeeta Agrawal and Raghuram Shetty provide everything you could ask for.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Screening as part of London Indian Film Festival

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