Maybe it's just that I'm not ready for a movie like this. Maybe there's some mystical insight one needs to grasp the unity of all the layers. I have a more practical mind.
(Spoiler alert: do not continue if you wish to come at the movie unprepared).
For example, I wanted to know whether Conquistador Tom's Mayan jungle thread was 'real' or just the writing of Izzi, or some ambiguous middle-ground. As an avid follower of the time travel genre, I wanted to know if Researcher Tom's change of mind to follow Izzi out the door and make amends while she was alive changed the universal timeline, or if it was nothing but a simple-minded metaphor for making the best of the present. And I really wanted to know something about Mystic Kung Fu Tom and his space bubble, like, is he simply a reincarnation? A Super Distant Future Tom that never died? Or was he just Astral Projection Tom, living in a plane of existence incredibly like our own, except for where it's different? I didn't get it.
I did get that it was supposed to be this amazing love story. That's what it was trying to be, and it reached that for a lot of other people. Me, not so much. Love for me is so much more than dramatic beauty and grandiose dreams and pronouncements, like, so cool of you to cure death to keep someone alive forever, you love them that much. But you treat them badly while they live, because you're so obsessed. I get that's supposed to be the character arc, that Tom progresses from being a rather obnoxious and unpleasant person to this supreme mystical father of life figure, because love.
But I just couldn't buy into it. It was, in fact, too external. Odd, right? This story is so much about that inner life, supposedly, but where is it in the story? Where do we find this real, living connection building between two lovers? It's more clear and more believable in something like Pride & Prejudice. That's a real picture of a tender love blossoming from hard dirt. Even Casablanca is better. But for this film, the love story is simply presumed to be there, so we can watch stunning visuals about it.
And I have no wish to be insensitive to the statement the movie is making about accepting death, which I understand has made this movie very meaningful for others. For me, I am dealing with those issues in my life, and this movie says nothing to me in that regard. Ambiguity as a style choice I understand. But it's shallow comfort compared to clarity. I felt empty at the end of this story, confused, no better off than I was at the beginning. Maybe that's just me. Like I said, I have a practical mind. Maybe I'm not the right sort of person for a film like this.