‘Coherence’ a failed experiment in moviemaking

This movie is too invested in showing off how smart it is.

The cerebral new sci-fi flick “Coherence” offers an immersion into quantum physics with a maximum degree of fidelity, to the point where it seems like it’s been made largely for audiences who could appreciate and nod along approvingly to a discussion about the nuances of Schrödinger’s Cat.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Intellectualism should always be celebrated when it finds its way to the big screen, even as but a small and relatively insignificant corrective to the enormous dumbing down going on in other parts of the business.

But this movie is so invested in showing off how smart it is, in demonstrating the ways its narrative reflects some fundamentally complex ideas, that it fails to offer characters worth caring about or a story that hits home emotionally.

It’s about a group of friends who get together for a dinner as a comet passes overhead and discover, after a power outage, that a parallel universe appears to have emerged down the street. This leads to a mix of panic and investigative consideration as the characters try to figure out the ramifications.

Writer-director James Ward Byrkit keeps things interesting on a basic level simply because it’s impossible to predict where the screenplay is going. He constructs a complex mystery that’s intriguing enough to justify sticking it out to the end, even if none of it really matters in a visceral sense.

Simply reading the script would offer a similar experience, though, without the claustrophobic cinematography or the ugly yellow lamp-lit aesthetic. You could simply skip the second-rate relationship turmoil.

Seriously, that’s the way to go when it comes to “Coherence.” The fact that the finished product feels like the blueprint of an actual movie wouldn’t matter because that’s a screenplay’s fundamental purpose.


Directed by James Ward Byrkit
Starring Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen, Hugo Armstrong
Not Rated
Playing at Village East

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