The tag: fear brought up posts by vanessatshionyi and mmacg123 which covered Vincent and Marcher respectively and puts the two protagonists into an interesting contrast.
Through the lens of Vincent, Berlant, and the grimace of panic capitalism, Marcher appears to be quite the hero, and really, not a failure at all. Unlike Vincent, Marcher’s secret life is not a “glitch” as Berlant would describe it, but Marcher’s secret life is his real life. For Vincent, neither the life he keeps secret from his family or the life that his family knows is real, there is only bad faith, and it’s hard to locate any part of the movie where Vincent exists at all. Instead Vincent appears in flashes, talking about his yearning to drive, expressing his confusion in the fog, jumping out the window and breaking into a run. But always in motion, never arriving. Existing only liminally, it’s hard to say if Vincent experiences emotions. It’s clear that he doesn’t understand how emotions work for others: but Vincent’s failure also includes his failure at expression. No output, neither from his body or his voice can be trusted. Much of the film’s tension can be traced back to the question of whether Vincent’s static state of escape is a fear reaction or a love of paralysis. It’s unclear to me if Vincent cares about his family at all, or if he cares if they find out about his secret life, and so the viewer watches for clues that such a revelation would be psychically damaging to Vincent: clues that never come. The one character Vincent could be said to love is Jean-Michael, as Jean-Michael is the only character that Vincent attempts to reveal himself to, even though that attempt fails. And Vincent is ungrateful for the help Jean-Michael offers him, which actually activates Vincent’s limited skill set. Jean-Michael gives Vincent work that should suit him, but Vincent recoils at the idea of being useful. He recoils at being not-useful as well. His desires, if it can be said he has any, are hard to map, besides driving.
Marcher, on the other hand, is a visionary. Even though the details of the future are obscure to him, he arrives at the future he desired anyway. Marcher set a goal early in life to one day destroyed by an existential horror, and he succeeds. His fear of it changes over time to become a comfort. Fear becomes his lover. And in loving his fear Marcher transforms it into something dependable, something that gives his life meaning. Vincent doesn’t transform anything in the course of Time Out, and he himself fails to transform. Mmacg123 points out that in his lifetime Marcher fails to risk anything, as he never extends himself outside of himself. It is true that Marcher never extends himself, but in the position that he is in, which is one of danger, changing or improving his life could also be seen as a fearful act. Marcher chooses to remain in danger. On 48-49 of The Beast in the Jungle Marcher discusses with Bartram how living static in fear, embracing the fear-self can be a kind of courage. I think courage is a little too far to describe Marcher but there is kind of altruism of Marcher’s behavior, as he does not project his fear onto others, or use it as an excuse to destroy anyone else.