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Film Review: Comet (2014)

Sam Esmail, current showrunner for TV techno-thriller Mr. Robot, directs Justin Long and Emmy Rossum in a reality-bending romance between a cynical young man and an intelligent young woman set in a parallel universe with twin suns. Dell (Long) doesn’t believe in love but falls head over heels for the lovely Kimberly (Rossum) at first sight. Jumping back and forth between critical moments in their six-year relationship, Comet unveils a sparkling but doomed coupling of flawed opposites.

Relying heavily on the charms and talents of Long and Rossum to keep the film afloat, the dialogue of Comet is mostly overwritten, existentialist musings on life and love. Dell is incredibly pessimistic and sharp-tongued, to the point of seemingly having a personality disorder as he blurts out words and retracts them almost immediately for being too honest. His instant chemistry with Kimberly causes him to do and say crazy things in order to hold her attention, which he somehow manages to do with persistent candour. Kimberly is far more grounded, yet she is somehow more unpredictable and difficult to control because she is less obsessive than Dell, challenging him when he becomes too weird, for lack of a better word. However, in the rare moments of silence, the actors’ facial expressions transcend the overwrought dialogue and viewers are able to access the core of Dell and Kimberly’s attraction.

Aside from the story itself, Comet absolutely excels in cinematography and editing. Breathtakingly beautiful, neon-to-pastel-toned lighting and deliberate framing create a cosy, indie aesthetic while shaky, celluloid-melting jump cuts meld the story’s time and space with a certain dream logic. As a result, Comet is reminiscent of other well-loved indie classics such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 500 Days of Summer in its reality-bending presentation of a deteriorating relationship. Some of these visual cues are also built upon and subverted in Esmail’s tonally different Mr. Robot in order to destabilize the viewer and generate excitement and tension. In Comet, however, these affectations create a sense of timelessness to Dell and Kimberley’s romance, a ceaseless loop reverberating throughout multiple realities.

Ratings (out of 5):

Directing: 4

Story: 3.5

Acting: 4

Dialogue: 3

Editing: 5

Visuals: 5

Music/Score: 4

Overall Average: 4.1

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