A fledgling psychologist must absorb a patient’s hair-raising story, which could alter the course of the future, in Nicholas Gyeney’s ultra-talky speculative fiction drama, “The Penitent Man.” True to the story’s concern with time travel, pic’s constantly shifting narrative tenses prove too much for writer-director Gyeney to handle, while the dramatic centerpiece is a striking near-monologue by Lance Henriksen as a man from the future who claims to have invented a sort of window into the past. Henriksen’s dominant presence will lure fest and buyer interest.
Fans of Henriksen’s Chris Carter-produced “Millennium” should have a pleasurable flashback watching “The Penitent Man,” in which a young doctor (Lathrop Walker) with escalating bills and a pregnant wife (Melissa Roberts) is confronted by charismatic, semi-regular patient Darnell (Henriksen), who details at great length how he invented a kind of time-viewing machine. The invention, made in the future, has caused massive social disruption, and the doctor realizes that this may not be science fiction, but his own future staring him back in the face. Premise far outpaces execution, though geeky influences from Ray Bradbury short stories give pic a charming retro feel.