Between the years 2011 and 2013, an astral phenomenon occurred which caused several different Screenwriters to have the same idea. The product of that idea was the following films:
Melancholia (2011) – Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.
Another Earth (2011) – On the night of the discovery of a duplicate Earth in the Solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.
Coherence (2013) – Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.
This phenomena was the reason I had never seen Another Earth nor Coherence, for though I am an avid consumer of science fiction, I remain a staunch sceptic when it comes to both astrology and appropriation. I was destined to see Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia at the approximate time of its release but based on a hunch I assumed the other efforts would be derivative.
Though I am yet to see indy darling Brit Marling’s Another Earth, I recently caught no-one-in-particular’s Coherence*. And lo, I am ashamed to admit I was a fool to make the assumption that this film would be derivative. In fact far from being so, Coherence is original in both idea and execution.
A science fiction film which leans into its zero-budget** milieu through naturalistic dialogue and hand held cinematography, the true genius of Coherence crept up on me well into and long after its 90 minute runtime. It’s a thought experiment which essentially asks, what would you do if you came across multiple versions of yourself?
It’s not a perfect film, at least not on first viewing. There are seemingly needless references to unrelated thought experiments which arise as the film’s cast of dinner party guests attempt to understand their predicament.*** And yet I am of the suspicion that the film’s seemingly glaring plot holes are little more than challenges to the viewer to watch it all again.
Whether or not one does attempt a repeat viewing, Coherence is well worth its 90 minute**** runtime. An enjoyable ride and a definite conversation starter***** over a post-watch beverage******.
Though the jury’s still out on Astrology, I now hold out hope that there are parallel universes, alternate timelines and realities in which I were not so closed-minded as to have missed out on an enriching experience.
*James Ward Byrkit may be a household name in an alternate reality
**The budget was actually $50,000 which is one fiftieth the budget of Time Crimes (2007), one hundredth the budget of Moon (2009) and seven times the budget of Primer (2004) – though Shane Carruth’s film itself should have an asterisk beside it as Shane Carruth is not of this world.
***If you placed a red herring in a box with a cat and sealed it, you would not know whether the herring were alive or dead until you opened it.
****Half the runtime of Interstellar (2014)
*****In that parallel universe where I have loads of friends
******Watered-down ketamine is not a social lubricant