I’ll Follow You Down Focuses on the Ethics of Time Travel


I’ll Follow You Down distinguishes itself from other science-fiction films by focusing on the ethics of time travel. Instead of acting first and thinking as they go, characters take time to consider whether they should go back in time — which turns out to be a problem, since writer-director Richie Mehta’s characters aren’t especially thoughtful.

Like their creator, they make massive leaps in logic before they do anything. Professor Sal (Victor Garber) tells grandson Erol (Haley Joel Osment) that he and his family are living in a “negative space” alternate timeline created after Erol’s dad, Gabe (Rufus Sewell), traveled back to 1946 to talk to Albert Einstein.

It’s not really clear how Sal knows this beyond the fact that he’s a scientist and has pored over Gabe’s theoretical notes on time travel. Erol is understandably skeptical at first, but after two successive family crises, he starts jumping to conclusions, too, as when he tells Sal that he senses that their lives just “[feel] wrong.”

Erol’s especially moved by out-of-the-blue speculation from girlfriend Grace (Susanna Fournier). She makes Erol realize that his actions will have consequences when she baldly bleats, “Can you look me in the eye and tell me with absolute assurance that if you go through with this, we’d be able to re-create the soul of this baby?”

But while Fournier’s understated performance gives I’ll Follow You Down some emotional heft, Grace is an otherwise indistinct character, making her concerns seem immaterial.