Movie of the Week 61
Coherence 2013 drama mystery sci-fi fantasy
Shot in only five days with an unknown, yet talented ensemble cast and mostly improvised scenes and dialogue, Coherence is a master example of what can be achieved with a modest budget, some good luck and plenty of inventiveness. It also has one of my very favorite sci-fi storylines: Parallel worlds or universe. The plot is simple: four couples are having a nice dinner party, and we, the audience, are like a fly on wall, watching their evening and wondering what the hell is going on. Coherence is a downward spiral of a movie where what appears is not exactly what it seems.
The movie is set in modern day California on the night that Miller’s Comet is visible from Earth, streaking across the dark sky with a long, fiery tail. There is no danger of the comet colliding with earth; the orbit is a safe distance away. But we soon learn the celestial event is not without strange affects, i.e. power and phone outages and cell phones self-destructing. So in a way, this movie is about the ancient practice of Astrology which is based on the belief that the position of the planets, moon, comets and stars in the sky can directly influence human life. If one has the slightest belief in Astrology, it is easy to suspend disbelief and just go with flow on this movie.
Stop reading here, if you are paranoid about mild spoilers.
So how does the comet influence people on earth, and what is “Coherence”? Simply put – the comet combines the parallel worlds; thereby, disrupting the logic and consistency of the real, or natural, world our eight main characters inhabit. People can change worlds simply by going outdoors to see the comet. Actually the movie should be titled, “Loss of Coherence”. The guests at the dinner party encounter slightly different versions of themselves. Gradually they take notice of the little things that are off kilter, and that leads to confusion, fear, panic, and even violence by the same peaceful, sane people who gathered for a polite dinner party. This behavior would have unthinkable only a few hours earlier, but remember the old saw that goes something like this: There is only a thin, delicate veneer separating the civilized from the barbaric. This movie is a good reminder how just the right amount of pressure can completely destroy that fragile veneer we take for granted.
The movie is a real Mind Bender and I have read negative reviews that complain about not keeping track of the characters. Well, that’s kinda the point here, and what makes it a fun movie. Here’s a few tips – let’s call the first house, prime, and the people in it are Em-prime, Hugh-prime, Kevin-prime and so forth. Keep your eyes on Em-prime as she is the only one of the cast the camera faithfully follows and it is really her story. Early in the film when Hugh-prime and Amir-prime leave the house, it is Hugh-2 and Amir-2 that returns, and that holds true for everybody that leaves the house, with the exception of Em-prime.
Sci-Fi movies these days tend to have so many similarities, that when a movie like this comes along, it’s refreshing to see something new. 'Coherence' is psychological science-fiction for a thinking person and it holds up much better than most big budget, pretentious science-fiction franchises. The movie is especially recommended for those who enjoy independent, minimalistic films.
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Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.