It’s the night of the comet. The strange celestial object affects time in the most curious of ways. COHERENCE aims its high-brow concept at 8 friends having a dinner party. By the time we reach the 30 minute mark we already have our minds blown. The twists & turns don’t stop there. This movie is a relentless attack on our intellect, exploring theoretical areas of quantum science. You do NOT want this movie to SLIP/THROUGH the cracks. Find it.
Fans of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and RAY BRADBURY take note. This movie is for you. Before I get into the behind the scenes stuff I have to explore the visceral experience of absorbing this twisted tale. What we have here is a real mind-bending head-scratcher like the recent Jake Gyllenhaal film ENEMY (from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve) and the blockbuster INCEPTION.
Like those movies, if you pay attention and focus on all the clues sprinkled about you will be greatly rewarded. This is a confusing movie, until it isn’t. Once the characters realize their situation, I think you will too. Every now and then it’s good to be challenged by a film. It’s refreshing to participate and actively co-create our fictional reality on-screen.
The filmmakers focus on EMILY FOXLER. Her life hasn’t turned out the way she expected. But her tight-knit group of friends are always there for her. During this “family” dinner, the comet’s strange effects are felt. Cell phones shatter, the lights go out, there’s banging outside their house. The whole neighbourhood is in blackout – except for a lone house down the block. The group’s investigation unravels their reality… completely.
I will remain SPOILER FREE in this review. Hopefully, I have just set the stage for the brilliance to come. This little film was shot in 8 days. The actors had no script. They received one page of character notes each day. The plot was planned out, but only the writers knew. When the power goes out (for example), nobody in the cast was informed. Their reactions are “real”. This continues as the scares escalate.
The translation to screen doesn’t play out like improvised banter. I didn’t notice until after the fact when I watched a director interview. This anti-Hollywood approach really works. It allows for daring performance, real tension, and sheer paranoia. These characters have no idea what’s happening, and neither do the actors. Natural acting. Simple but effective.
We are never too lost participating in this fantastic twisted tale – even with the compelling use of jarring abrupt edits. There are so many hints laid about for the careful observer / participant. They may not make sense at first, but in hindsight (upon reflection) these little visual clues make everything click. Maybe I will add a SPOILER article if anyone wants one explanation or wants to discuss the ending?
SPOILER(ISH) WARNING… SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH TO AVOID CLUES
I will say there are several images that really helped me understand what happened. The biggest and most obvious clarity comes from the coloured glow-sticks, the numbers, and the artefacts. But also make note of these appearances for extra clarity on that bizarre ending: the cracked phones, the ring, the shower.
NERD CASTING SHOUT-OUT 2000: Nicholas Brendon (XANDER from BUFFY) plays an actor in this one. Except the TV show his character used to star on was ROSWELL. Talk about alternate realities.
What do you think about this movie? Does COHERENCE rank up there with other super-smart indie Hidden Gems like CUBE, PRIMER, LOST HIGHWAY, NOWHERE, MOON, and PI?
Leave a comment. What did you think of the ending? Does your brain hurt? Would you like another article exploring my interpretation?