Stylized as a black-and-white amateur documentary, this is the story of how in 1939 in Sussex, a very smart girl named Thomasina invented a machine that could receive tele and radio broadcasts from the future. Initially, Lola (the name given to the device in honor of Thomasina’s late mother) helped Thomasina and her sister Martha win at horse races and entertained them with hits from unborn musicians. However, as war breaks out, the girls decide to use Lola as a secret weapon against Germany. At first, everything goes well! Thanks to Lola, British forces burn enemy planes in droves and sink submarines; the people rejoice, and Britain is stronger than ever. But one day, Martha wanted to listen to her favorite David Bowie again, and instead of him, Lola showed her some fascist pop song that topped the charts. The girls realize that something has gone wrong.
This film will definitely make it to my personal hit parade of the year. And not because of the plot. It’s clear that all these “butterfly effects” have long been chewed over, and there are pseudo-documentaries about alternative history that are better – just remember the Russian “First on the Moon.” No, it’s something else.
The film was actually shot with a vintage Bolex camera on 16mm film, so the picture and sound are authentic. The director alternates staged scenes with real archival footage or blends them together (yes, in the style of “Forrest Gump”). It turns out great and sometimes clever: German soldiers cheekily cosplay the famous “Flag of Victory over the Reichstag” photo; The Kinks’ song “You Really Got Me” from 1964 becomes the anthem of the British people’s struggle against the Nazis. There’s a lot of music in the film, and it plays a crucial role. The creators constantly emphasize that history is shaped not only by major events but also by popular culture.
And there are also amazing female protagonists here! Martha is tender, impulsive, in need of love; Thomasina is cold, pragmatic, and without nonsense. Both are used to capturing their lives on camera, so we can constantly be with them, watch the sisters bicker over wine, soak in the bath, listen to their cute girl talk, observe Martha’s budding romance with a British intelligence officer, and look into her frightened eyes when she realizes what they’ve done: “He’s not there. David Bowie is not there. He’s gone!” – “We saved many people who would have otherwise died, which means we might have erased him.” – “You can’t just erase David Bowie like that! Bring him back!”
And all of this together – the worn film image, the naturalness of the characters, the light carelessness with which the creators tell their story, and humor, finally – turns into something wonderful, caressing not the nerves, but some, I don’t know, sixth sense, perhaps. The magic of cinema as it is.