Movie Review - Coherence

The past half-decade or so have seen an uptick of independent films that utilize science-fiction themes or plots but doing so on small scale, usually with people confined to one location. Some outstanding examples have been Moon (2009) and Sound of My Voice (2011).

This year saw another such film called The One I Love (2014), which a lot of people compared to The Twilight Zone. This film could draw similar comparisons. Yet, this film, written and directed by James Ward Byrkit, is better because it's able to use the sci-fi conceit to explore the characters in a more profound way. It's also able to be creepy and vastly scarier.

The movie takes place all in one night. It's a dinner party with eight friends. They have food, wine and catch up. As the night progresses, strange things start to happen. Eventually, they trace the source of the strange things to a comet that is passing closely over head. Watching each of the eight react and handle the situation is compelling and revealing. Chief among the reactions that become the focus are those from two characters.

The first is Em, played by Emily Baldoni. She's a very anxious blonde who is a former ballerina. She's anxious as a result of her losses in life. She was primed to become a dancing star but she lost it to another woman. She becomes even more anxious when she learns her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend is attending the dinner party.

The second main character is Mike, played by Nicholas Brendon (Criminal Minds and Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Mike is an actor who put his career on hold for his wife Lee, played by Lorene Scafaria who works for Skype in northern California. He claims to have been in a TV series, but it seems dubious. He's very loud but personable and funny or always trying to be funny. Yet, he also has his demons. He apparently had a drinking problem.

Watching Em and Mike react is great. Em is more logical and reasonable. She's more measured in her response, while Mike is very emotional and rash. He's more impulsive in his responses. Both, however, have paranoia in varying degrees. What the movie forces is both to examine their lives and reconsider choices they've made.

Byrkit's screenplay also has a brilliant circular nature. Em tells a story in the beginning about a woman who confesses to killing her husband even though the police find her husband standing next to her. A version of that story circles back to Em by the end. Em also talks about her dancing career being lost to another ballerina. Her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend Laurie, played by Lauren Maher, says her life was stolen, possibly as a way of goading or undermining her, but by the end this idea of her life being stolen is circled back.

Whether it was Byrkit's writing or his casting, but his characters all got depth or breath to be very interesting presences in this film. Hugh, played by Hugo Armstrong, comes off across so well, even as he explains Schrödinger's cat and quantum mechanics. Maury Sterling (Homeland and Extant) is a guy who's not given a lot and he's just a regular caught in the middle of two women, but you still get a feeling of him.

Rounding out the cast is Elizabeth Gracen who plays Beth, the wife of Mike. Alex Manugian is Amir, a guy about whom you're not sure. The fun of the film is that you're not sure of the bigger mystery, but Byrkit weaves a great thriller.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.


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