I never feel more like an idiot than when I write a movie off or judge the proverbial book by its cover and then watch it only to discover what a gem I almost passed up. The indie film “Shuffle” is a perfect example of my narrow-mindedness. What sounds like a low-budget straight-to-DVD knock-off of “The Butterfly Effect” is so much more and is teeming with heart that movie could only dream of mustering up.
A man named Lovell Milo begins waking up in different eras of his life. He’s living out of order and aware of it. Cryptic messages from individuals in each time period tell him to pay attention so he can help save someone’s life.
Director Kurt Kuenne perfectly captures on film so much genuine emotion it’s almost overwhelming to watch at times. Not overwhelming in a bad way. It’s in that rollercoaster ride kind of a way. I can only compare viewing “Shuffle” to living an entire life and its experiences in an hour and a half. Every emotional sensation you could possibly encounter runs through your body as you take it in.
All of the actors in the film give outstanding performances. TJ Thyne (“Bones”) pours his entire inner self into the role of Lovell Milo. I can’t imagine how hard it was for each actor to keep up with what season in their character’s life they were emulating at any given moment.
Dylan Spraberry does an incredible job portraying Lovell as a young boy. It had to be difficult because he plays a child who knows the future but at his actual age. This isn’t a remake of “Freaky Friday” or “Vice Versa.” He’s 11 or 12 years old but knows what the future holds for him. Taking on a role that complex is a heavy load for any young actor to bear.
The DVD comes with some comprehensive bonus features. There are video diaries from the Festival Circuit director Kurt Kuenne and actor TJ Thyne showcased the film at. A 30-minute documentary goes through the inception of the movie. The black and white director’s cut is included along with a trailer. Apparently, Kuenne’s preferred way for you to see the movie is in black and white, which is the way I watched it.
“Shuffle” is an uncommon film to find these days. It’s a sci-fi time travel thriller which draws comparisons to movies like “The Butterfly Effect” and “Memento.” Unlike many films of this nature, it ends on a high note. The journey to its conclusion is troubled and dramatic but the finale is exhilarating and doesn’t leave you despondent. It’s as close to a thoroughly balanced film as you can get these days.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Blu-ray Review: “The Butterfly Effect”
Blu-ray Review: “The Butterfly Effect 2”
Blu-ray Review: “Outland”