Frequencies – the movie

There is a delightful brain-tease of a movie available called Frequencies. The trailer is here. The assumption of the movie is that people have a “frequency” which is not quite IQ, but which seems to have much the same sorting function. The higher the frequency, the greater the luck, but the less the empathy. The movie begins in a private school with two main protagonists, a boy and girl. The girl is very high frequency, the boy is a scores very low: indeed he is a minus. He is not unintelligent; but it appears from his “frequency” that he will attract bad luck, and always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The girl, by contrast, does not even have to look both ways before crossing a street: she will always walk between the speeding cars and buses. The movie follows them from childhood through their teens to their early twenties (changing actors on the way).

Our hero, the young man, comes back from foreign travels after several years to attend the birthday party of the young lady with whom he was in love in school, and that is where the fun begins: where the weird stuff starts. By “weird” I mean that the young man and his principal male friend have found a way to compel people to do what they want by the uttering of certain two syllable words, which they put into the conversation seamlessly. That is the magic. He has found a way to change his frequency. And the girl, who had been on the verge of suicide, because she felt nothing, now has the chance to feel emotions.

So far it is boy meets girl story. Then the complications begin. Because what the young man has found is a system of sounds which have essentially near-magical powers of compulsion, which attracts the attention of the State: men in black suits with Heckler&Koch sub-machine guns. and then it gets even weirder and better, and deals with some Very Large Issues, free will and determinism among them.

This is a classic of British science-fiction. It uses nothing but ideas and characters to convey its message: no special effects, no interstellar travel, no advanced technologies. Just a great script and some intelligent actors. It is at the other end of production costs of Interstellar, and just as interesting. Available on Netflix.

A fine review is available here from the New York Times.

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