Flashback (originally titled The Education of Fredrick Fitzell) combines striking visual parallels (thanks to cinematographer Brendan Steacy for rising to the occasion and providing one of the few elements here that works) with a perplexing loopy narrative, attempting and failing to elicit emotional impact through its methodical style. The film, written and directed by Christopher MacBride (after The Conspiracy), comes across as arcane and uncompromising, and even a little tiresome at points, especially during the prolonged somber precursor to the understanding of what’s going on with the story’s structure. With the pote, it also retains just the right amount of atmosphere.
Dylan O’Brien plays Fredrick Fitzell, who is seen in two stages of his life: as a high school senior distracted from important exams by the mysterious Cindy (Maika Monroe, who feels wasted here as a character but no doubt proving to be a reliable force on the same idiosyncratic wavelength as Christopher MacBride), and as a young adult working in data analytics while moving I (Hannah Gross). There’s a lot more going on, with his ailing mother (Lisa Repo-Martell) losing her memories. However, it is Cindy aga, not that dismal scenario, that is diverting his attention away from a major presentation he is preparing for work.