Movies like Memento, told backward, are so six years ago. Premonition complicates it all by throwing the whole calendar week out of order. One day a woman finds out that her husband has died in a car accident; the next morning she wakes up and he’s alive, ready to drive their two daughters to school. Next days, same mess: He’s alive, he’s dead, he’s alive, he’s dead, the kids are okay, or maybe they’re not. Is it true that this loving, sad-eyed wife (Sandra Bullock) can see a terrible day coming where her perfect mate (Nip/Tuck‘s Julian McMahon) smashes up on the road? Can she alter the future? Is she crazy? Or is she just being made to feel crazy by those four standard messengers of feminine destabilization — her increasingly distracted man, her vaguely infantilizing mother (Kate Nelligan), her possibly unreliable best friend (Nia Long), and her nefarious-looking shrink (Peter Stormare)? And what’s up with the priest she consults: Is he part of the solution or part of the problem as he offers the toothless, non-sectarian counsel that ”faith is believing in something beyond yourself”?
One piece of advice in trying to make sense of it all: Follow the sleepwear, since Bullock cycles through a few garments that clarify which day is which. Another suggestion? Ignore the two-bit psychological and spiritual doggerel with which screenwriter Bill Kelly (doing the time warp again after 1999’s Blast From the Past) tries to deepen the meaning of the game. Concentrate instead on the picture’s interesting moments of art-house visual style, especially where Turkish-German director Mennan Yapo and his cinematographer, Torsten Lippstock, zoom in on Bullock’s empathic, Everywoman beauty, employing tight, caressing close-ups to convey the character’s confusion and vulnerability. Then prepare for some hoary genre clichés: mourners huddled at a graveside service, the widow spying a mysterious woman behind a cemetery tree, and, of course, the part where a car explodes into really big Michael Bay flames. And that’s about all there is to know about Premonition, especially if you normally wouldn’t give time travel the time of day.