Film: Fracturing the Brain for Science

Using the one cheesy element – a brain mapping device that looks like an old hairdryer affixed to an office chair — he learns that the time given to each one of the areas is exact: Six minutes long, switching off every 10 minutes, perfectly filling each hour. 

Controlling each area might lead to the breakthrough he seeks, an ability to control human consciousness — a pathway to selfhood that would erase PTSD, boost the intellect and remove the need for drugs.

Indeed, the vivid, often violent switches between each aspect of the personality are marked by a vivid psychedelic bubbles that at first seem like they were triggered by using Alka-Seltzer as a hangover medicine. 

But no, they’re all slave to the clock. And good thing his brainy ex-girlfriend (Paton Ashbrook) is there to help guide him through each jolting personality shift. Sridharan’s increasingly haggard character Ethan gets to the point where he’s leaving messages to the other personality traits or scanning security video in an attempt to stitch it all together. Unfortunately the final, mysterious aspect rears its head, and it’s no good for the other nine. 

The complex story, put together by Schultz, Thomas Torrey and an actual neuroscientist Justin Moretto hones closely enough to actual science to make it compelling. The screenplay succeeds by treating the viewer as smart enough not only to keep track of the various personalities as they scroll through an hour, but also keep an eye on the clock that dictates when they change. 

It’s a strong performance from Sridharan, a Brooklyn actor who actually looks like he might be a fully absorbed scientist (instead of, say, a beefcake with glasses and a lab coat). Ashbrook is an intelligent  grounding force as well. Working together, you almost forget they spend almost the entire film in a basement lab together. 

Ashbrook, who has been in “Shameless,” “House of Cards” and Power Book II: Ghost,” has quite the Hollywood lineage — her grandparents were Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas; her dad is Lorenzo Lamas. Her uncle is Dana Ashbrook of “Twin Peaks” fame, who also has a part in the film as a professor and supposed collaborator who makes an unfortunate visit to the lab.

The title “Minor Premise” sells the whole thing a bit short — it’s a little more than minor (though I guess they couldn’t have called it “Section 8” lest it be mistaken for a real estate film). It’s a solid first effort with a tight script and sweet twist at the end, that ought to forge its own natural pathway to bigger things from the filmmakers.

“Minor Premise” is available on demand on Amazon, Apple TV, InDemand and VuDu, among others. It comes to DVD with a special edition Blu-Ray today. 

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