Independent British sci-fi film Frequencies garnered a lot of acclaim on the festival circuit under its original title OXV: The Manual, and it certainly should not be allowed to slip under your radar. Ambitious, intelligent, polished and moving, it’s the kind of film that deserves to find a passionate audience.
The film is set in a world a lot like ours, but where people have certain frequencies that determine their luck and demeanour. High frequency humans tend to be very lucky, but may struggle socially. Those at low frequencies are unlucky and clumsy, but more emotional.
The film follows the relationship between incredibly high frequency Marie (Eleanor Wyld), who seems to lack feelings completely, and very, very low frequency Zak (Daniel Fraser), who is utterly in love with her. We watch them go from their awkward school years into their adult life, as the smitten Zak desperately attempts to overcome his predetermined fate and make a connection with the intrigued but sceptical Marie thanks to an innovation that threatens to subvert the natural order.
Writer-director Darren Paul Fisher does a superb job of establishing his world, plunging us straight in at school level and allowing a series of time-jumps to give us the information we need, and show us Marie and Zak’s development. The two leads are beautifully played, both by the young actors (Dylan Llewellyn and Georgina Minter-Brown) and by their adult counterparts. Their blossoming relationship is given added tension by the fact that, because they are on such diametric ends of the frequency spectrum, they can only be in contact for a short space of time before a terrible event occurs.
Once Marie and Zak reconnect after years apart, the film’s larger questions of fate and predestination are addressed more fully. The script does occasionally lose itself in the intricacies of the science, but we never lose interest in its two central characters.
With more and more information added in the film’s final third, the biggest criticism of Frequencies is that there’s simply too much to fit in; the character of Zak’s friend Theo could have used a little more time, for example, and a history lesson feels a little rushed. However, that’s a minor quibble.
Frequencies is a sci-fi that engages the head and the heart. It’s not flawless, but it’s the kind of film that we have no hesitation in recommending. See it.