Title Card - Flashback (2021)

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How far would you go to remember someone from 15 years ago who disappeared? Especially if under the circumstances most would happily choose to forget?

Director(s) Christopher Macbride
Screenplay By Christopher Macbride
Where Can You Watch? Video On Demand
Date Released 6/4/2021
Genre(s) Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Young Adult
Duration 1 Hour, 37 Minutes
Rating Not Rated
Noted Cast
Fred Fitzell Dylan O’Brien
Cindy Maika Monroe
Karen Hannah Gross
Sebastian Emory Cohen
Andre Keir Gilchrist
Mrs. Fitzell Liisa Repo-Martell

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Film Summary

As his mother lays dying, Fred is also dealing with a new job and just moving in with his partner, Karen. All of this acts as stressors, making traffic the last straw and sending Fred down an alley to hopefully get home quicker. But, with being distracted by a phone call, then a weird man in an alley, an old memory jogs Fred’s mind.

Said memory is that of Cindy Williams, a possibly High School crush who Fred realizes he doesn’t remember what happened to. So, with being desperately in need of a distraction from all that is going on in his life, Fred goes down the rabbit hole to discover what happened to Cindy. This includes meeting some old High School friends, Sebastian and Andre, and damn near destroying his life in pursuit of answers.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Drug use, cursing, nudity (bared breasts mostly), and smoking. Also, fair warning, there are flashing light moments that could possibly affect those who get epileptic seizures

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

You’re either coming with me or letting me go.
— Cindy

Review/ Commentary


You Do Get Invested In What Happened To Cindy

Cindy (Maika Monroe) in school, looking at Fred in the distance
Cindy (Maika Monroe) in school, looking at Fred in the distance

Because of the way Cindy is sculpted and how Fred’s memories of her unravel, she acts as the primary hook, despite Cindy not saying all that much and what she does say, it not always making sense. And mind you, this is while not necessarily acting as Fred’s love interest. Rather, Cindy operates as this strange girl Fred meets while experimenting with the drug Mercury that plagued his high school. But, while everyone else chilled while they got high, she went exploring and moving. This intrigued Fred and drew him in, and as he seemingly became an addict, she often played his guide to help him get the most out of the experience.

And as you learn what capabilities Cindy and others believe can derive from taking Mercury, even potentially overdosing from it, it brings things to the next level. For then, we are forced to wonder what is and isn’t real, like was Cindy even real? On top of that, as Fred’s life falls apart, there is even the need to question is his world real? Add in wondering if maybe Fred exists within Cindy’s own drug-induced journey, and she becomes the key to understanding what is potentially going on and why you should stick around until the end.

On The Fence

As The Truth Unravels, So Does the Story For A Little Bit

Fred (Dylan O'Brien) before he loses his mind
Fred (Dylan O’Brien) before he loses his mind

After a certain point, you get what is going on and what happened, and so the movie tries to pull the rug from under you. Now, on the positive end, it does present you with multiple timelines of what Cindy claims exists. Yet, on the other end, it does feel the timelines are presented to make you further question what you think is real, and Fred’s sanity, and there is a good chance by the point you get your first grasp of what’s going on, you’ll just want Flashback to wrap it up.

Lack Of Investment In Fred’s Life

While the film presents multiple reasons to invest in Cindy, it doesn’t do the same with everyone else. Mrs. Fitzell, as much as she is probably suffering, is an afterthought. Fred’s partner, Karen, while she seems nice, and you do have to enjoy the intimacy she shares with Fred, she doesn’t evolve beyond being the person he comes home to or visits his mother with. And with Cindy looming in the shadows and in Fred’s memories, Cindy is pushed to be the one who got away and Karen the one who got to be more than a rebound.

And the issue spreads to Sebastian, who is a ends to a means for answers, and Andre? Honestly, if Andre was cut from the film, it would have little to no effect because Andre doesn’t add much if anything. But perhaps the biggest crime here is this is the type of role where, as charismatic as O’Brien is, in an effort to be seen in a different light, he sets aside that star quality to be this dramatic leading man.

Andre (Keir Gilchrist) giving Fred the side eye
Andre (Keir Gilchrist) giving Fred the side eye

The problem is, O’Brien isn’t necessarily there yet, at least when it comes to playing this type of character, and even when he gets to play a teenager, what most of us are used to him being, there still isn’t that magic. So rather than share this journey with Fred, it is like Fred is a video game character you have no control over. Yes, you have to go through them to know the full story, but how they look and sound doesn’t matter. O’Brien doesn’t present himself as the only person who could have played Fred, he is just the man who so happened to be cast.


Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

When it comes to Flashback, you’ll get through it, but I won’t pretend there won’t be points you won’t be tempted to walk away or may find it convoluted. For as much as Cindy presents enough to keep you hooked, Fred’s psychosis and his drug and stressed induced downfall, it pushes O’Brien out of his comfort zone and wheelhouse. Thus, as he gives a dramatic performance and things go topsy turvy, his charm wanes, and you find yourself wondering when this is going to get to the point?

Hence the mixed label. Flashback requires a love for Dylan O’Brien and/or Maika Monroe to get through it. But with O’Brien forced to lose some of the charm that made him famous and Monroe’s character stringing you along throughout the movie, I can’t guarantee you’ll stay on the hook until you get all the answers.

Title Card - Flashback (2021)
Flashback (2021) – Review/Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Fans of the actors involved and those who enjoy a mystery that slowly unravels and includes twist, turns, and various possibilities.
You Do Get Invested In What Happened To Cindy
Low Points/ On The Fence
As The Truth Unravels, So Does the Story For A Little Bit
Lack Of Investment In Fred's Life

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