Film Review: Backwards Faces is a science-fiction fuelled comedy that revels in its own complexities

  • Peter Gray
  • April 18, 2023
  • Comments Off on Film Review: Backwards Faces is a science-fiction fuelled comedy that revels in its own complexities

Just as confusing as it is fascinating, Backwards Faces, a science-fiction fuelled comedy from writer/director Chris Aresco, seems as if it’ll run the risk of being a little too smart for its own good.

It all starts straightforward enough, with a post-one night stand scenario setting up the dynamic between Ken (Andrew Morra, also serving as the film’s producer) and Sydney (Lennon Sickles).  He appears to be the more sensitive of the two, with her almost deadpan mentality unable to mask the obvious disappointment she felt over their night of intimacy.  Ken seems to invite the criticism – or at least some reasonable feedback – and the attempt at small talk ultimately drives the film (quickly) to its narrative intention.

Except the small talk here isn’t the usual post-coital pleasantries, it’s alarmingly complex as they detail quantum mechanics and theoretical physics (because, obviously).  Ken, you see, reveals that his bathroom happens to be the portal to a multiverse, where every time he steps in and out he could enter a different version of himself from an alternate universe; so much for a fake number exchange and a “I’m late for work” fake-out exit, right?

Sydney can’t help but take this is an elaborate excuse to kick her out, and as much as she rubbishes his ramblings, Aresco’s script manages to keep the dance between the two in action so that Ken’s theories can be brought to fruition.  Given how grand such a story as this could be, it’s a testament to Aresco as a filmmaker that he’s able to streamline his ideas into such a tight production; it runs for 68 minutes, it features only Morra and Sickles as its players, and it’s condensed to one location.

The budget limitations are obvious, but that hasn’t stifled Aresco’s creativity, and with his black-and-white pallet he further leans in to the film’s ultimate unearthly temperament as it navigates its comedic inclinations with occasional doubt and fear over Ken’s projection of his reality.  Yes, the story is complex and confusing, and if you aren’t paying close enough attention it’s likely to entirely confound you to the potential point of consumption, but in a time when originality in film isn’t as prevalent you have to hand it to the creatives behind the film for refusing to sugarcoat their ideas.

A film that runs deeper than we may expect – the metaphorical gaze regarding Ken’s own detachment from the consequences of his actions could speak to the way we manipulate our own presence on social media – Backwards Faces steps beyond its constraints and imperfections with a confident stride.  Not everyone will appreciate Aresco’s execution, but you’d be hard pressed to not marvel at his bold vision.


Backwards Faces is now available to rent and/or buy on such digital platforms as Google Play, YouTube and Apple TV+.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.