Review: Minor Premise (2020)

Directed by: Eric Schultz. Starring: Sathya Sridharan, Paton Ashbrook, Dana Ashbrook. Runtime: 1h 35 min.

In Minor Premise, a reclusive neuroscientist, Ethan Kochar (Sathya Sridharan), tries to surpass his brilliant father’s legacy by continuing an experiment that deals with memory and attempts to understand the brain, using a machine called the R10 that Ethan is perfecting for a university study. Doing so, he becomes entangled in his own experiment where he inadvertently separates his consciousness into 10 fragments that are pitted against each other.

I’ll never specifically understand the science aspects of the film, which is the most confusing aspect, but writers Justin Moretto, Eric Schultz (who also directs), and Thomas Torrey portray it well enough that you get the gist of it. It feels confusing when Ethan starts to have his blackouts and he starts to lose time, but once we get exposition that his consciousness is fragmented, and he loses time because certain aspects of his brain have the “controls,” the film becomes (somewhat) easy to follow. When it comes to the writing, the film is smart and the direction has a distinct feel to it, especially as Ethan goes through old memories. There’s also a distinct feel in the distortion of memories and general disorientation Ethan feels.

In character, Ethan is a fine protagonist, though his cocky attitude kept me from being completely emotionally invested in him. He has a strong chemistry with an old flame in Alli (Paton Ashbrook), who helps Ethan figure out what’s going on. Their chemistry and acting is what helps keep the film interesting throughout, and she handles this situation well.

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Paton Ashbrook in Minor Premise. (Courtesy of Utopia Distribution.)

I love the concept of this as an internal battle, as throughout the film the different aspects of his consciousness are separated into six-minute cameos, as each fragment of his personality gets six minutes to appear every hour. Alli really only interacts with the Default Ethan (so the original), and the Intellect Ethan. That’s the one that is trying to figure out what’s going on and restore Ethan to his normal self. Of course, there’s that one bad apple personality – Section 8 – that doesn’t want the normal Ethan to come back. This all gives Minor Premise such a compelling internal conflict that makes the concept here so intriguing.

Sridharan plays all these different fragments of his brain well in a dynamic performance, though we mainly only see Default, Intellect and Section 8 (who is very similar to the Default with one slight difference). We see some of the other fragments in montage, and this performance isn’t as diverse as someone like James McAvoy in Split as he creates distinct personalities. Here, Sridharan very much is playing as Ethan in each fragment of his brain, just with a different emotion scaled up (like Anxiety or Anger). It’s still effective and it starts to feel like Dissociative Identity Disorder in certain spots, but this really does feel like its own beast. As well, with Alli, the different dynamic she has with each fragment, where Intellect is keeping secrets from Default, makes this fun and fresh throughout.

The film feels slowly paced at times as a creative premise that settles more often for the drama of this intense situation than anything flashy. Minor Premise has small-scale thrills in essentially a one-setting film where a pair of people try to restore his memory using science, as they figure out a scientific equation in a race against himself. That makes this feel unique and compelling, and I’m glad that the execution of this concept is strong.

Score: 75/100

This film started streaming online and on Digital (as well as some theatres and virtual cinemas) on December 4. Here’s a link for where the film is available to rent.

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