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This Week at the Movies

'In Time' and 'The Rum Diary' are mediocre, but indie romance 'Like Crazy' is a charmer.

The clock is ticking during every minute of Andrew Niccol’s new dystopian thriller, “In Time.” In the film, time itself is currency as humans are programmed at birth to die at the age of 25 - that is, unless, they can earn extra, minutes hours, days or years. The rich can seemingly live forever.

Justin Timberlake plays Will Salas, a young man born in a working class neighborhood whose time has nearly run out and literally lives one day at a time.

In a plot to revenge his mother’s death, he plans to infiltrate the wealthy, but heavily guarded, city inhabited by Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser, of “Mad Men”), who has collected millions of years of existence and keeps it all to himself.

Two people stand in the way of Salas’s plan – Weis’s rebellious daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfriend) and a vigilant “time keeper” (Cillian Murphy), who becomes suspicious after Will inherits hundreds of years from a dying rich man whom he saves from a group of thugs.

The film moves along swiftly enough, but its world is never sufficiently established. We are told that the length of human lives is set at birth with green time codes running constantly across the left arm. This is a detail that we must accept at face value because it is never fully developed or explained.

Niccol wrote the screenplay for “The Truman Show” and directed “Gattaca.” Both of these films similarly blended science fiction elements with cultural critiques.

“In Time,” unfortunately, falls short of its potential. It’s a minor film for a major talent.

The same can be said for “The Rum Diary,” which posthumously reteams the acting talents of Johnny Depp with the writings of Hunter S. Thompson.

Much like Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Bruce Robinson’s “Diary” is a well-acted and visually impressive, but unnecessary, adaptation.

There’s something about Thompson’s wacked out style of writing that makes it nearly impossible to translate to film.

So, what we end up with is Depp, whose genuine love for the gonzo journalist is obvious, doing his best Thompson impersonation – for two hours.

The picture is based on one of Thompson’s early novels that Depp helped to get published. The story revolves around a drunken journalist named Kemp who nabs a job at a paper in San Juan and then gets mixed up with a crooked real estate developer, his attractive girlfriend and a loony photographer.

As the film reaches its finale, the dazed and confused Kemp begins to achieve a sense of purpose. And then, the film abruptly ends.

“The Rum Diary” has praiseworthy elements – namely, Depp’s committed performance – but it lacks a raison d’être.

Drake Doremus’s “Like Crazy” is the week’s best film. The mostly improvised picture’s greatest asset is its ability to present young love with sincerity and not turn maudlin.

Anton Yelchin is an artist living in Los Angeles who meets a young British writer (Felicity Jones) during a college class.

The two strike up a relationship, which is then tested after she overstays her visa and is forced to return to England.

Rather than turning into a soapy long distance relationship drama, the film’s characters drift in and out of love. They become involved with others, but have difficulty committing themselves emotionally. As time marches on, the couple questions whether they should continue their romance or just move on with their lives.

“Like Crazy,” which was a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is a charming and occasionally somber film about the sacrifices required for amour fou. Other films about the pains of young love – “Twilight,” I’m talking to you – should take note.

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