Comet

Release: Friday, December 5, 2014

[Netflix]

Written by: Sam Esmail

Directed by: Sam Esmail

Comet can pretend it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event but the stars shone so much brighter in the universes it has been melded by, spectacular constructs like the intricate and heartrending Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 500 Days of Summer.

Bearing the heartbreak of the former while resembling more of the latter’s narrative nonlinearity and sophistication, Comet isn’t exactly a bad film when comparisons to romantic dramas of that ilk occur so naturally. It’s just unfortunate there isn’t much beyond a different cast that distinguishes Sam Esmail’s work. Of course, the case could be made that his film pays homage but where exactly does one draw the line between dedication and duplication? A few colorful, creative scene transitions beautified by special effects don’t quite cut it for this cynic reviewer. Oh, and the film is supposed to be set within a parallel universe. Although a bit hokey, that angle is one I can work with.

Prior to what is purported to be a spectacular meteorological event, Dell (Justin Long) bumps into the beautiful Kimberly (Emmy Rossum) as they wait in a line to access a park that will provide the ideal vantage point. Caught up in one of his verbalized streams of consciousness stating his lack of faith in humanity, as only a character played by Long can, Dell is saved from being hit by a passing car by the new girl. He spends the remainder of this evening pining after her, lamenting the fact she’s already spoken for by some guy who happens to look good but quite clearly has no personality. He decides the meteor shower can wait until he’s finished his stalking.

Comet then jettisons us out of this present tense and into another, one somewhere in the near future (this film covers a six-year period), where the two are now an intimate couple. Times haven’t changed so much as the dynamic of Long and Rossum’s interactions. We’re privy to heated arguments, weird phone calls, insults stemming from two people slipping out of love and into something more akin to hostility. Resentment. Chain smoking cigarettes becomes a motif. And Long’s character doesn’t become much more likable, though he is certainly interesting. This is probably one of his better performances, though it’s veiled behind pretentiousness and petulance. Conversely Rossum magnetizes with her quick wit and hipster glasses.

Then the narrative shifts yet again, sending us back into a place where things were more romantic. The story constantly moves and changes, with almost every scene introducing a different phase in the relationship. And the process is far from chronological. That the film manages to maintain our interest at all stems from an incisive, brutally honest script that lays bare all the faults — some of which are all too apparent and others that are created through the simple but terrifying passage of time — of a relationship that seems to have been contrived from the very beginning. Who shakes hands to formally kick off a relationship? Who does that?

Apparently this couple. Comet would be a memorable picture but — at the risk of repeating myself — it’s far too reminiscent of Tom and Summer’s experiences together and the slide into their own private oblivion. Whereas 500 Days of Summer justified its experimentation with practical structure (“500 days” prepared us for the inevitable) Comet seems to just drag on and on, never seeming to settle on a pattern or even pretending like one would make any difference. It’s a shame because the performances are strong, the cinematography gorgeous and emotions do run high. Truly, it’s difficult at times to believe Rossum is in fact not in a real relationship with Long but the director himself. (I’m sorry, was that a spoiler?)

Comet has its moments of brilliance but it’s a true challenge shaking the feeling of déjà vu. Of course, there are worse fates for a film steeped in a generally predictable and melodramatic genre.

Recommendation: Visually dazzling and capably performed, it’s frustratingly difficult to ignore Comet‘s contrived nature. For great performances from its two stars, I do recommend a viewing. But be advised, you probably should have a high tolerance for Justin Long. He tested my patience at times and there’s a good chance he will yours. Emmy Rossum is a newcomer to me and she’s a delight. I’d recommend it more for what she puts forth actually.

Rated: R

Running Time: 91 mins.

Quoted: “Why does it feel so impossible to let you go? It’s an addiction, you know. That’s all it is. It’s a biochemical addiction. It’s so stupid. If you think about it relationships are totally narcissistic. Basically, you’re just looking for someone who’ll love you as much as you love yourself. That’s all it is.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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28 thoughts on “Comet

  1. Pingback: Commercial Break #30 | Mettel Ray

    • Eeeeeyyy-oohhh. I see what you did there. Nice. 🙂

      Eh, yeah I can’t say Comet would be the best choice in that case. He is front-and-center here and can be a downright jerk often. But that just means its a good performance. Sometimes the fact we really don’t like the character is a testament to their work. But yeah, in a romance you kind of want to at least like the people involved, right? lol

    • “Mad-as-a-box-of-frogs Tusk.” That’s going on record as one of my favorite expressions you’ve left here in the annals of DSB, my friend. Hhahaha.

      But I understand compeltely, he was one of the worst parts of that extremely terrible movie. And thanks for reminding me about that, dammit! I thought I had moved on. 😉

  2. Romantic movies aren’t my thing and this is one I think I’ll be avoiding. Great read as always Tom! 🙂 And I don’t think any romantic movie will live up to ‘Eternal Sunshine..’. Such a great movie

    • I’m not big on romance myself, but every once in a while they’ll offer some keen insight into the human condition. This unfortunately borrows far too much from films that do say much about how we interact with one another. There’s not much to justify it, although the cinematography is varied, beautiful and unique.

      Few movies will be Eternal Sunshine man, that is a great movie, definitely.

      • Yeah Eternal Sunshine is just something else… if its streaming I’d recommend The Infinite Man – it got praise on the festival circuit, its out on BR so I imagine you could stream it… it gave me a similar vibe to Sunshine…. only The Infinite Man’s weirdness comes from time travel elements. Its a fuckin’ great film, if you can find it you won’t regret it. Its funny too. T’was made in my state too 😀

        • Ah yes, I remember you wrote something about that for one of my BSR segments. It sounded good. I’ll go poke around on Netflix and other places to see if it’s available.

          Speaking of BSR’s, if you have anything you’d like to talk about send me an email with some more film titles man. I’ve gotta get at least one of those up this month before time runs out! I always try to make them a monthly (bi-monthly, if possible) feature. 🙂

          • Oh shoot I forgot about that, yeah for sure, you shortened the word length for it didn’t you? Have you written about Time Lapse? I never got around to writing about that one, another time travel caper with a twist.

            • Yeah the general gist is the same but I think I’d prefer to take pieces that are in the neighborhood of 150-200 words. Single paragraphs. It just makes the articles a bit shorter and less daunting to read. 🙂 Email whenever you’d like Jordan. It’d be a pleasure.

                • Sounds fantastic my friend. I have not seen that movie, no sir. I await your review. 🙂 Just as a general timeline, I’ll probably stick with just the one BSR this month, so if you could have it in to me by Sunday, August 30, that’d give me enough time to format and put it up by the 31st. Thanks!

  3. I read about this a while back but missed its brief week or so in cinemas over here. I’ve got to say I’m still intrigued despite the score, mainly because of what you say about the visual style. Emmy Rossum and Justin Long I don’t know. I’m preparing for the worst with regard to the latter!

    • I think it’s only fair to have some trepidation about Long. He can play these downright twats sometimes. Strong language I know, but it’s true. It is also true of his character here. Dell is a thoroughly unlikable guy but he’s off-set by the weird but much more affable Kimberly. Emmy Rossum is a newcomer to me, so that was refreshing. Unforunately the story and its structure was not as refreshing.

  4. I almost checked this one out when it was first released but ended up letting it slip by. I may give it a look at some point but I just can’t get excited for it. You hit on some of my hesitations. But I am glad to read it has some qualities worth seeing.

    • For me it was just too similar to those titles I pointed out for me to fully recommend. Of course there are worse problems to be had. I think the enjoyment of this journey largely hinges on how much you like Justin Long. Even for me, someone who more often than not does like him, he wore a little thin on me as Dell. A complete idealist and a downright jerk at times. But the script is really pretty good.

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