In the Loop: The Fare

It’s a joke now that we’ve all been repeating the same day over and over for more than a year now. I had been thinking about this and also my unapologetic love of time loop movies.

Welcome to In the Loop, a project where I will write about time loop movies (and on occasion, TV shows) once a week.

Note: I will be writing about all of these movies as if you’ve seen them, so spoilers ahead!

The Fare (2018, directed by D.C. Hamilton)

  • Time until the loop begins: 10 minutes
  • The cause of the loop/inciting incident: Mystery cab passenger
  • Number of time loops: 7 until it became impossible to count
  • Lessons learned: We just need to embrace our purpose for the ones we love.

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One of the advantages of time loop movies is that they don’t require a lot — a small number of sets, a small number of costumes and characters and there can be a movie. Of course, the movie has to be good but those are only details.

For the majority of The Fare, there are two characters — Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi), a cab driver; and Penny (Brinna Kelly, who wrote the movie), his mysterious passenger. The set is the inside of Harris’ cab. That’s it. That’s essentially the movie.

It is pretty clear from the beginning there’s more going on here than it seems even before the time loop begins. Harris is driving a cab through what seems to be a desolate desert. He even picks up Penny in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. It’s clear from the outset this isn’t meant to reflect reality and the dreaminess serves the movie well. Initially in black and white, it feels quite a bit like an episode of The Twilight Zone, especially after Penny disappears out of Harris’ cab in a flash of lightning. There’s also no real modern technology to speak of — no smartphones, nothing digital. These small touches add to the out-of-time feeling of the movie.

Quickly enough, Harris realizes he’s caught in a time loop (Penny already knew), and the movie switches to color. These stylistic choices are handled with such confidence. Yes, this is an “arty” movie and it knows it, but it’s also thoughtful about what it’s doing. The production design makes this movie feel bigger than just two people in a cab.

It is asking a lot of these two actors and while these aren’t award-winning performances, they work here. In the beginning, Pesi seems like he leans a bit too hard on being the hardened loaner that’s required, but he definitely has a good rapport with Kelly. Kelly brings a lot of playful warmth to Penny. She knows what movie she’s in (after all, she wrote it) but she also treats Penny as a woman with her own life and perspective. The bonding moments Penny and Harris share are sweet and it seems plausible these two characters would fall in love.

There’s a bit of misdirection (“it’s aliens!” seems to be a suggestion because there’s a radio show talking about time-traveling aliens) but if you’re paying the least bit of attention, it’s pretty easy to catch onto what’s happening after Penny mentions she’s in “horticultural.” Harris is someone ferrying passengers from one dark location to another, after all. So it’s not aliens — it’s Greek mythology.

Harris, it turns out, has probably spent centuries driving people to the underworld and he only gets to see Penny (actually Persephone) once a year. She’d given him a potion to make him forget the rest of the year between their meetings, but Harris decides he doesn’t mind being the ferryman after all.

Is it a twist that feels like it works? I don’t think it would in another movie, but all of The Fare feels pretty abstract and mysterious. It’s more about tone and mood than it is about the story. Penny and Harris will have these moments together for the rest of eternity and the poetry of that feels satisfying.

(I do want to point out that this is maybe not technically a time loop since time is progressing forward and everyone other than Harris knows it, but since we don’t find it out until the end of the movie that’s not actually what’s happening, I’m still counting it.)

Next week on August 24: Repeat Performance

In the Loop logo by Sarah Burnett. If you’d like to support this project, buy one of my Polaroids.