User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 83 out of 99
  2. Negative: 12 out of 99
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  1. Aug 27, 2010
    10
    A minor miracle of a film, this movie manages to pull off everything a major motion picture should have (great scripting, amazing acting, drama, etc.) with a mere budget of ~$7,000. It's simultaneously captivating, confusing, frustrating, and in the end, completely gratifying - even if you can't put all the pieces together on the first viewing. I already can't wait to watch it again.
  2. Jun 22, 2011
    10
    (10.0) Awesome. The best Sci-fi serious in this century. How can you make a great movie with great head and a tight budget.
    Escuchar Waiting eagerly to the new work from me, since I saw this movie, new idol.
  3. KenK.
    May 4, 2005
    9
    A very intersting, albeit sometimes confusing, science fiction film.
  4. BrianS.
    Jan 26, 2006
    10
    The best film of 2005. Probably the best sci-fi film of all time. Confusing at times, but that's what re-viewing is for and this movie demands it. Give it time to unfold and let it blow you away.
  5. VinceH.
    Oct 22, 2004
    9
    I had read a lot of film journals and press on this film ever since its premiere at Sundance in March or whenever, and had been highly anticipating it ever since. The reviews certainly did the film justice. This is the most maddening, incomprehensible and brilliant movie since the great year 2001 which gave us Donnie Darko, Memento, and Mulholland Drive. Oh, and this film makes those as I had read a lot of film journals and press on this film ever since its premiere at Sundance in March or whenever, and had been highly anticipating it ever since. The reviews certainly did the film justice. This is the most maddening, incomprehensible and brilliant movie since the great year 2001 which gave us Donnie Darko, Memento, and Mulholland Drive. Oh, and this film makes those as easy to understand as a Hilary Duff movie. Usually when people say you have to see a movie twice to "get it", they usually are being facetious. Primer actually DEMANDS a second viewing and even if playing close attention the film deliberitately plays with plot and chronology by using elliptical editing that jumps all over the place and re-plays certain scenes and moments wrapped up in other scenes that are then wrapped up in a different scene, i.e. you get the point. It is hard to tell when certain scenes end and begin and which characters are talking to others and in what time. All this sounds like crap now but those who have seen the film can relate. I can just imagine chat room and message board geeks analyzing and deconstructing every second of this film a la Donnie & Mulholland. Also, a little clue to help you figure out things in the end: Pay very close attention to when phones ring and who is calling... Collapse
  6. MarilynW.
    Oct 12, 2004
    10
    With a limited budget, the cast and crew did a excelent job with what they had to work with. Had they had the extra money...you would be highly impressed. I think David Sullivan carried the movie the way that Shane Caruth wanted it portrayed. Congratulations all who had a hand in making this movie...it kept my interest and it made me pay attention to the detail, and ask questions and make With a limited budget, the cast and crew did a excelent job with what they had to work with. Had they had the extra money...you would be highly impressed. I think David Sullivan carried the movie the way that Shane Caruth wanted it portrayed. Congratulations all who had a hand in making this movie...it kept my interest and it made me pay attention to the detail, and ask questions and make me want to watch it again to answer those questions. Expand
  7. charlesc
    May 28, 2005
    10
    This movie takes some work on the part of the viewer to appreciate it. Here is one hint: there is more than one Abe and Aaron traveling in time. The movie is a study of the interaction between two nerdy guys who get into a project over their heads, but the story itself is a puzzle that must be figured out. Ingenious! And to all those aspiring critics out there: do not even think about This movie takes some work on the part of the viewer to appreciate it. Here is one hint: there is more than one Abe and Aaron traveling in time. The movie is a study of the interaction between two nerdy guys who get into a project over their heads, but the story itself is a puzzle that must be figured out. Ingenious! And to all those aspiring critics out there: do not even think about reviewing or critiquing this movie without giving it at least several viewings. Expand
  8. DavidK.
    Oct 10, 2006
    10
    Primer is a brilliant cinematic science fiction thriller! Unfortunately for the non-science enthusiast, the screenplay dialogue is absolutely overrun with swift moving unexplained techno-jargon that may unintentionally frustrate those viewers to the point of disappointment as they find themselves getting more and more lost between plot lines. But for everyone else, this spellbinding Primer is a brilliant cinematic science fiction thriller! Unfortunately for the non-science enthusiast, the screenplay dialogue is absolutely overrun with swift moving unexplained techno-jargon that may unintentionally frustrate those viewers to the point of disappointment as they find themselves getting more and more lost between plot lines. But for everyone else, this spellbinding sci-fi mystery thriller is a terrific must see film! It is a complete success, and an incredible achievement by both Shane Carruth and David Sullivan. Expand
  9. DavidH.
    Sep 24, 2006
    10
    A modern-day masterpiece. The further the film progresses, the more fascinating and innovative it becomes. The this is the first feature film Carruth managed to make, lets hope it isn't the last.
  10. Mick
    Sep 10, 2007
    10
    One of the strangest viewing experiences i've had; it won't be for everybody!
  11. DanB.
    Oct 17, 2004
    10
    For the most part I have no idea what happens in this movie. But it is absolutely awesome and I loved it and talked about it for hours and still don't know what happened, and I'll have to see it again. Hot damn. I say, HOT damn! Indeed.
  12. JeffS.
    Jul 18, 2006
    10
    What at first appears to be bland dialogue between uninteresting characters begins to very cleverly remind us of the lengths that the film is going to establish a sense of realism. This science fiction film succeeds in its abandonment of cliche and hand-holder storytelling, and yeilds instead a glimpse into the real-world implications of such a mind-bending event. The characters are real What at first appears to be bland dialogue between uninteresting characters begins to very cleverly remind us of the lengths that the film is going to establish a sense of realism. This science fiction film succeeds in its abandonment of cliche and hand-holder storytelling, and yeilds instead a glimpse into the real-world implications of such a mind-bending event. The characters are real and flawed, and the eventual breakdown of clarity as a story device is brilliant. Expand
  13. TerryG.
    Dec 13, 2004
    10
    I was really impressed with this movie, especially the scene at the beginning with the over-lapping dialogue. I compare this film to La Jetee and asked the director about it. He said many ppl have told him that, but he actually didn't see La Jetee until after he had screened this movie at Sundance. Please remember that the premise of this movie is time travel which is a totally I was really impressed with this movie, especially the scene at the beginning with the over-lapping dialogue. I compare this film to La Jetee and asked the director about it. He said many ppl have told him that, but he actually didn't see La Jetee until after he had screened this movie at Sundance. Please remember that the premise of this movie is time travel which is a totally interesting thing, but you have to focus all your energy this movie can be draining. I did find I understood this movie alot more after discussing it with friends, but I'm scared to see it again for fear of getting lost in it. Expand
  14. Apr 17, 2013
    9
    Absolutely mind-blowing, and not because the plot is so engaging itself. Carruth spares the vernacular for scientific jargon and feels no remorse, and THAT is what is so intriguing. We don't want to watch it a thrid or fourth time because of the story. We watch it again and again because we want to know what the hell is going on.
  15. Xen
    Mar 19, 2012
    9
    interesting, at some points confusing, time-travel film. The acting wasn't great but they did the job and the premise of the film really did give it some sci-fi charm.
  16. Jun 29, 2012
    9
    A truly breathtaking science fiction film, Primer manages to avoid one of the major pitfalls when attempting to make a compelling science fiction film, and does so with some considerable swagger. Where so many of its forebears have been reluctant to challenge its audiences with scientific jargon, Primer refuses to compromise itself by 'dumbing down' its content. The film tells the story ofA truly breathtaking science fiction film, Primer manages to avoid one of the major pitfalls when attempting to make a compelling science fiction film, and does so with some considerable swagger. Where so many of its forebears have been reluctant to challenge its audiences with scientific jargon, Primer refuses to compromise itself by 'dumbing down' its content. The film tells the story of two friends who, whilst working from Aaron's (Shane Corruth) garage of a night building and selling JTAG cards, stumble across a technology that appears to move substances through time. It's true, for those without any particular scientific aptitude, this content becomes relatively complex and hard to follow. Nevertheless, this films delves deeper than this, posing many questions concerning the responsibilities that come with possessing unlimited power. However, if you are thinking the entanglement ends there, Primer has another ace up it's sleeve. With a plot that meanders more than a knotted snake, a repeat viewing becomes essential if you really intend to grasp the storyline in its fullness. A film in this mold is always likely to draw criticism due to its heavy plot lines and, at times, bewildering scientific concepts. Yet it is precisely here, in my opinion, that Primer acquires most of its gold stars. Intellectually stimulating and wonderful in its construction, Primer is science fiction in its purest form. Expand
  17. Jul 22, 2013
    10
    I think it was "Esquire" that called this the best sci-fi film since "2001." High praise, but right on the mark. This is a brilliant film that accomplishes what no time travel movie has ever done, focusing on the people rather than on the gimmick.
  18. Dec 14, 2014
    10
    One of the best movies I've ever seen. A good time travel film free of the rubbish Hollywood normally injects into a film to try and draw in audiences.
  19. Sep 23, 2014
    9
    Classic cult film and a must-see for anyone who likes strange plots full of twists. I needed watching it a couple of times before being able to fully grasp all details. Time travel, oh yes, like it or hate it, but there it is.
  20. Nov 15, 2014
    9
    If you are trying to absorb this film in the same fashion that you would a box office topping flick, you will be lost, and disappointed at the end. This plot does no "hand holding" and is as ambiguous as it is hard to follow in the first place. However, in its over-complexities, a light of genius shines in its ability to be an experience rather than a casual, two hour suspension fromIf you are trying to absorb this film in the same fashion that you would a box office topping flick, you will be lost, and disappointed at the end. This plot does no "hand holding" and is as ambiguous as it is hard to follow in the first place. However, in its over-complexities, a light of genius shines in its ability to be an experience rather than a casual, two hour suspension from reality. This indie thought provoking piece will grab your college degree and break it in half. While usually being thrown in with an "Inception" this film creates no basis of time or space to go off of. You control you're own interpretation of this film. People make charts and graphs on this movie just to understand what is happening and when. Truly a mentally challenging experience that is as strange as it is intriguing. Expand
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 2 out of 25
  1. The movie may be too precious for mass consumption, but its filmmakers' willingness to assume the best of their audience, combined with its Everyman origins, suggest a movie that deserves a chance.
  2. 90
    A half-baked conspiracy subplot in the last third makes Carruth's knotty narrative even harder to follow, but this is still scary, puzzling, and different.
  3. 88
    It is maddening, fascinating and completely successful.