“If you could go back in time, what would you do?” This is the question Professor Jake Epping asks to his students in 1963; and it’s wonderful how everyone replies that want to kill someone; from Hitler to Stalin…even Omero so they don’t have to study the Odyssey…I’m sure that outside the script, in the real world, most of people, especially teen-agers as in the TV case, would probably choose something more personal; that’s why we love time travel movies: because there is something so romantic in them we can’t just pass over….everyone would like a shot on a bad ended relationship or on a last meeting with someone who is suddenly gone…we are human and we learned long ago how to coexist with regrets; but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream this wonderful opportunity to be able to turn back time.
Some of the best time travel movies are about personal events and love: from the biggest one, Back To The Future, to the English About Time, to The Time Travel’s Wife but Hulu‘s 11.22.63, the eight-part event series based on Stephen King book of the same name, is a wonderful mix between personal shots and big picture events.
11.22.63 follows Jake Epping (James Franco), an unsatisfied high school English teacher and evening GED class instructors with a failed marriage who spends a lot of time at a local diner owned by Al (Chris Cooper). When Al suddenly appears at the diner devastated by cancer, before dying, he reveals to Jake that the closet is a “rabbit hole” to the 1960, where Al has tried, on multiple occasions, to prevent the huge tagedy of that decade: the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. At last, frustraded by his life, Jake eventually takes up Al‘s crusade. But soon he discovers something more personally satisfying in a relationship with the school librarian Sadie (Sarah Gadon). Of course, the romance isn’t all smooth: Jake‘s segrets and Sadie‘s past keep catching up with them especially in the form of a violent, creepy ex-husband (T.R. Knight, Dr George O’Malley from Grey’s Anatomy rings a bell?!?!).
So, it seems that finally with Hulu and producer J.J. Abrams, Stephen King‘s works have finally found the right format for the screen; probably a two hours movie as planned previously by director Jonathan Demme, who at the end abandoned the project, would inevitably be a condense with a bad result.
What works about the series is that it’s all expressed pretty simply and driven just enough to make you care about each character, even those you meet in one or two episodes, and about all the different stories behind the big picture.
Alongside James Franco, we proudly see our (now former) BAFTA Rising Star George MacKay (Pride, Sunshine On Leith, Private Peaceful) as Bill in an oustanding performance.
In the cast also, for the firsts couple of episodes Josh Duhamel as Frank Dunning, the man who murded Bill‘s sister first and then…sorry we can’t spoiler this one; you have to find out watching one of the best series of the season.
“You fuck with the past, the past fucks with you.”