This intelligent, unpredictable film surprises the viewer more than once by cleverly using the implications of time travel to its advantage: some things in the story are not what they seem to be. One aspect of its thought-provoking subtext concerns what is sane and what is insane and the power that psychiatrists have in that regard; sanity is not as easy to define as one might think.
Director Terry Gilliam infuses the movie with a surreal quality and moments of dark humor. The commendable visuals and production design create a great, suitably gloomy atmosphere. Inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film The Pier (La jetée).
Bruce Willis and Madeleine Stowe are convincing in the roles of the rather well-developed characters James Cole and Kathryn Railly, respectively. Brad Pitt gives an outstanding, memorable performance as Jeffrey Goines, particularly in the scenes that take place in a mental institution.