Comet (★★★½)


5268LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL: Much like the comets and shooting stars that Del and Kimberly are waiting to see, Comet is a film you have to wait for to fully get. Not that waiting is a bad thing mind you. In fact it’s the anticipation of what might be said next or revealed visually that keeps this wonderful film humming along. One of the most visually stunning indie films I’ve seen the past few years, Comet is a beautifully rendered experience that excels on nearly every level.

Comet is a movie that’s altogether easy and difficult to synopsize. The movie is about the course of an extremely tumultuous relationship of Kimberly and Del over the course of a number of years. This movie may or may not take place in several alternate dimensions and by the time you reach the ending, you pretty much can’t figure out which one you are actually in. However, this fact is irrelevant to the film as the coming together and splitting up of Kimberly and Del, and the thematic weight carries you throughout the film.

It’s probably Kismet that I popped in The Last Year at Marienbad a few weeks ago because it got me completely in the mood for the many whims that Comet has. Much like that film, writer/director Sam Esmail has such a sure hand and a fantastic understanding of the journey he’s trying to take the audience on. Movies that have fractured narratives often find themselves enamored with conceit of breaking up the story, and while Esmail certainly has his flourishes (the static that often signifies a shift in time does get a bit annoying) he grounds the film as much as possible in the human emotions. 

This is perhaps why the movie works, in spite of a script that often gets caught in lyrical dialogue that really weighs on the audience towards the middle of the film. Not to say this is out of character for Del and Kimberly, you do in fact believe these characters would speak to each other this way, but just that the sort of more composed dialogue works better in some parts than in others. I found myself longing for more of the nastiness as the relationship broke down or the moments or pure love than the longer stretches of dialogue. However, Comet does manage to find a tenuous balance between these that keeps the movie going despite any issues you might have dialogue wise.

One of the main reasons is because of the large than life performances given by Emmy Rossum and Justin Long. We’ve long known Emmy was a capable actress whose very welcoming outer visage, gives way to a much more wrought and emotional center throughout this film. I loved all the scenes with Emmy that revolved around the less than happy times when a text conversation has gotten out of control or the sequence in a Paris hotel that really forced her to dig deep to find her character. The star of this movie is Justin Long who gives perhaps the best performance of his career in this film. He has a tough task, his character is initially so abrasive that you aren’t sure whether to root for him, and by the end, though he’s changed, you aren’t sure still. However, Long nails the moments of growth with the character and just presents Del with flaws and all. It’s really something quite special and Long treats it as such, peeling back the layers and letting us see the essence of the character.

I could go on, but Comet is really a film that’s best experienced by watching it. Esmail has crafted something intriguing with this film and it will be a wonder to see other take it in.