The essence of Jacob's Paradox, a 36-minute sci-fi short co-directed and written by Michael Peake, is a love story. It's impossible to not come away with this feeling as we watch the story of Jacob Matthews, a Quantum Physics Professor living the perfect life until his wife is murdered, unfold in a way that feels deeply intimate and authentic.
Peake, who also portrays Jacob, has crafted a film that takes us to an emotional edge with Jacob yet does so with an intelligence not common amongst other films that have tried to explore a variation on this theme. Peake's Jacob understandably experiences a deep downward spiral after his wife's murder as he refuses to return to the home that they shared and begins drinking heavily and plunges into a deep depression. Encouraged by his boss to take some time off and get himself together, Jacob instead plunges even deeper into his depression and becomes consumed by the idea of finishing a long ago envisioned time machine that could restore order to his universe.
While this may sound familiar, Peake assembles it in a way that feels rich and authentic and heartfelt and intellectually satisfying. Michael C. Potter's lensing is immersive and captivating, while Peake's fine performance is joined by a warm, emotionally rich turn by Amanda Miller in flashbacks as Jacob's wife and Mindy Heithaus as one of Jacob's co-workers. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention Potter's work in the area of visual effects and special effects, a potential pitfall for a low-budget indie short yet an area that works far better than you might expect.
While it is often a cliche', Jacob's Paradox truly is a short film that feels longer. The film packs in the material, developing characters nicely and filling out the story in all the right places, but feels just about perfect in terms of length and substance.
For more information on the film, visit its Facebook page linked to in the credits on the left.