A French chateau in Normandy has been repossessed, and while it has seen better days it would still be a desirable property for anyone with money to spend on renovating it: the possibilities are endless. But are they literally endless, thanks to a quirk of the cosmos? Certainly Bernard (Gethin Anthony) is not thinking along those lines when he pulls up to the gates of the house in his car, anticipating a French estate agent will show him around, so he is surprised when it is an Englishwoman, Maggie (Cara Theobold), who appears and tells him she is the representative of the property. They make awkward small talk, but there is something playing on his mind, a text message from his wife that he really did not want to hear about...
Around the Sun was a two-hander, a neat way of focusing the audience's interest if the filmmakers have no budget for anything more expansive, but director Oliver Krimpas and writer Jonathan Kiefer were thinking along those lines anyway. Take something small and almost intimate, an afternoon a man and a woman spend together that could unfold in a number of different ways, then show us that happening, building on the previous sequence over and over to offer more perceptions on what was at heart both simple and incredibly complex. Conversations happen every day, have done for millennia, which should render them mundane, yet once you start musing on how they happened and the mechanisms that made them possible, they could be mind-boggling.
In this Maggie and Bernard wander the grounds of the chateau and venture inside its walls so he can make up his mind about whether to take what turns out to be the property of his Anglo-French family, who should have spent their lives rich, but it has not turned out like that. So he has some sentimental value attached to the place, and also a status investment if he gets it back, but that text message which may or may not have been sent and may or may not have been sent by spouse, has told him she is pregnant, and in these conceptions (so to speak) he is not happy about the news, for whatever reason may be relevant at any one time in any one universe. You see what the dilemma was, something that may matter hugely in one universe may have no importance in another, and we were never sure which to settle on.
This was based on the writings of Bernard's scientist namesake, who concocted the idea of parallel universes and wrote about them in a book that is alluded to here, sometimes more strongly than others (the two cast members dress up in period costume in one sequence for a dip into the past centuries ago, for instance). But in each variation, we learn a little more, and note what differs from the last, invited to judge what has improved and even whether we think this pair should be making progress romantically - sometimes they seem compatible, alternatively she could be too good for him. But they each have their regrets, things they would have done differently as we all do, and the pressure of those choices out of an infinite number is what fuelled the drama, which ended up a cross between Before Sunrise and Last Year at Marienbad, only less passionate than the former and less scary than the latter, though there was a tenderness to the interactions that ensured you stayed with it. It was performed with assurance, assisting the plot over its labyrinthine qualities, but you can't imagine it having an enormous audience: if you think you like the sound of this, you will probably appreciate it. Music by Steven Gutheinz.