comet_1Year: 2014
Director: Sam Esmail
Writer(s): Sam Esmail
Region of Origin: US
Rating: NR
Color, 107 mins

Synopsis: Set in a parallel universe, Comet bounces back and forth over the course of an unlikely but perfectly paired couples six-year relationship. (Source)

Comet is a rare type of cinematic spectacle. It isn’t the type of Hollywood fluff involving giant robots or endless explosions, but an intimate story that probes deep into the human heart, showcasing moments and choices that make us who we are. A spiritual and more imaginative successor to 500 Days of Summer, the film features a heartfelt romance that plays out like a string of surreal memories, resulting in a poignant experience that’s funny, tragic and even hopeful. Directed and written by Sam Esmail, Comet is akin to lightning in a bottle, capturing both the limitless possibilities of chance and the finite nature of every waking moment.

The story follows two lovers named Dell (Justin Long) and Kimberly (Emmy Rossum), and unfolds over the course of 6 long years and a few parallel universes. From the pair’s unexpected first meeting (at a famous Hollywood cemetery to witness a meteor shower) to the highs and lows of their rollercoaster of a relationship, the plot zig-zags between 5 pivotal moments in their lives, presented in non-linear fashion, yet segueing fluidly from one moment to the next. Through it all, we get to piece together each interaction like a puzzle, which amounts to a rich tapestry of contrasts chronicling just how much we change and stay the same over time.

By focusing on just a small handful of moments, out of order and always initially without context, the fractured narrative allows us to view each scene objectively, offering a poignant dissection of life’s infinite possibility and the details that might get lost along the way. What really sets the film apart is its ability to capture each encounter like a fragmented memory, with details visually and thematically going in and out of focus, capturing the beauty of each second and countless spaces of time and detail in between. In that sense, Esmail’s dissected the emotion and feeling behind romance itself, sensually evoking the unsaid words and thoughts behind each action. Even further, the film turns these feelings into reverberations which grow stronger over time, no matter the distance. It’s finally a universal type of love story that breaks the mold to speak on more visceral terms rather than the same boring formula.

comet_3Making this all work on a human level are some of the best performances we’ve ever seen from Justin Long and Emmy Rossum. In the film, each character couldn’t be more different, as opposites who attract and change one another with irresistible charm and genuine chemistry. As Dell, Long is the more neurotic of the pair, whose almost OCD compulsions keep him from ever noticing what’s happing right then and there until it’s too late. As Kimberly, Rossum is a wonderful counterpart, the warmness to Long’s cold yet endearing calculating personality. Together they create the spontaneous burst of unpredictability and heart necessary to make the film resonate long after it’s over.

Above all, Comet is a breath of fresh air, beautifully scripted, executed and acted with the kind of haunting mediation of life and love we don’t too often get. With it’s impressionistic and genre-bending narrative, we learn that life is what happens in between each word, thought or action. In that sense, Sam Esmail’s impressive debut is a beautiful love letter to life itself.

Crome Rating: 4.5/5