Review – EIFF 2014 – Coherence

Coherence

Dir: James Ward Byrkit

It could have been a perfectly normal dinner party, where everyone has a fun time and nothing remotely bad happens. Unfortunately, Amir has turned up with Laurie, who used to go out with Kevin, and Em, Kevin’s current girlfriend, isn’t happy about it. There’s a vial of a homemade pick-me-up sitting in the kitchen, with a pinch of ketamine in it, just enough to take the edge off. And Miller’s Comet is flying overhead, flashing beautifully through the night sky. Suddenly, all the lights go out, and everyone dives for candles and torches. Every house on the street is dark, apart from one sole homestead a few blocks away. Then, there’s a heavy thump on the door. After that, things begin to get a little strange.

To say any more than that would be to spoil everything. When the lights go out and the knocks on the door begin, the film briefly appears to veer into horror genre territory, but this film strictly belongs to the mind-bending sci-fi category. Trying to figure out what’s going on, just as the characters on the screen try to do, is all part of the fun. To tell you specifically what kind of story this is is kind of a cheat. This is a movie that tries to disarm you and forces you to pay attention. If this all seems like hard work, don’t worry. You’ll come out with your brain scrambled, but you’ll want to see it again almost immediately.

It’s a serious piece of work, but it’s funny too. The cast do a great job of convincingly selling the film’s concept, especially Emily Foxler as the paranoid and discontented Em. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendan is genuinely hilarious as former actor Mike, and tends to get all the best lines. The film feels very tightly scripted, but apparently much of it was improvised, making the actor’s work all the more impressive. It’s not without its flaws; some moments in the plot feel suspiciously convenient, and some of the science sounds like dubious movie-logic. We need to rave about this movie, though, because movies this inventive needs to be seen and talked about. Like Inception or Primer, you’ll want to talk about this movie, map it out and debate it. There is a lot we can’t discuss here, for fear of ruining anything, but there’s a real emotional story being told in the middle of it all, one we can all relate to. This is what gives the movie a human element that can sometimes get lost in heavy sci-fi features like this. Highly recommended.

****

 

Stuart Addison

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