Shuffle
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For most of us, life is confusing enough. It’s a challenge to go from one day to the next, making decisions about everything from what to have for breakfast to what to do with our lives. But, for Lovell Milo (T.J. Thyne)—the main character in writer/director Kurt Kuenne’s out-of-sequence romantic adventure, Shuffle—life is a complete mystery.

Whenever Lovell wakes up, he finds that he’s skipped somewhere in time. Each time he falls asleep, he could wake to find himself working on a promising career as a photographer in his 20s, playing outside as a kid, or slogging along as a wedding photographer in his 30s. One minute, he’s happily engaged (or married to) his childhood friend, Grace (Paula Rhodes). The next minute, she’s gone, and he’s alone.

During one of his visits to a wedding in his 30s, Lovell gets a clue from a young wedding guest, who tells him that someone is in danger—and it’s up to him to do something about it. And when he learns that his beloved wife is killed in an accident at some point on his timeline, he decides to try to put the pieces together and save her.

  
 
Shuffle isn’t the movie that you might expect. In the beginning, the mysterious tone and the gritty black-and-white photography seem to suggest that you’re in for a haunting, Memento-like adventure—something dark and mesmerizing and intricately detailed. But you’ll soon discover that that’s not exactly the case. While the time-skipping storyline does force you to think through the details—to try to put the pieces of Lovell’s life together into something coherent—this isn’t a dark or heavy film. It isn’t especially layered or particularly puzzling, either. Instead, it’s often surprisingly light and funny, with touches of romance and whimsy.

Thyne’s Lovell makes an interesting hero—at times happy and energetic, at other times gloomy and depressed (all depending on where he lands on the timeline). But it’s Grace who gives the film its charm. No matter what her age, she’s bubbly and feisty and determined, always encouraging Lovell to believe in himself and follow his dreams—like a kind of real-life fairy godmother.

Still, Grace’s role in the film’s conclusion seems rather forced and a little too sentimental. And the end of the film is neat and fluffy—and not entirely satisfying.

Shuffle is clearly a low-budget film—and if you’re used to flashy big-budget movies, you might be thrown off by its obvious limitations (not to mention its black-and-white photography). In the same way, if you’re expecting a gripping and thought-provoking mystery, you might find its sentimentality frustrating. But if you’re willing to sit back and let yourself get caught up in the mystery and adventure of it all, you’re sure to enjoy this clever little twist on the same old romance.

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