Los Angeles Film Festival Comet Review – A Few Universes Short of a Hit

Despite the stellar title, Sam Esmail’s film, Comet had a lackluster showing at the Los Angeles Film Festival.  Yet, music, by Daniel Hart, intensifies the film’s most dramatic moments and dynamic scene transitions add excitement to the light-speed paced film. The plot blasts through Dell (Justin Long) and Kimberly (Emma Rossum), rocky six-year relationship—in turns icy and fiery—leaving the viewer in awe of the characters’ bond.

Aside from the clichéd star-crossed lovers theme, Comet takes the romance one step further by placing the couple in parallel universe; this twist on reality is revealed by a title card that opens the film.  Allusions to the film’s warped sense of reality and temporality continue throughout the movie.  While these meta references remind the viewer that they are not actually watching a story unfold in Los Angeles, they begin to lose their dramatic irony as the film continues its trajectory.

Comet is a broken love story with distinctly Los Angeles feel, Esmail laces the couple’s recollections together with key turning points in their relationship.  Although Dell and Kimberly’s conflicts seem contrived at times—awkward first encounter to long-distance phone break-up—there appears to be a magnetic on-screen chemistry that draws the couple together.  The sparse supporting cast lends the narrative an intimate feel and reinforces the focus on the couple’s relationship.

As Dell explains to Kimberly near the end of the film, “it was a dream of memories…to the brain, there’s no difference between reality and dreams...they blended together like a painting.”  This statement encapsulates both the strength and the weakness of Comet’s non-liner, alternate reality plot—it can be challenging for the casual observer to appreciate the intricacies of the couple’s relationship. Just like the Magritte Meteor Shower that opens the movie, successful romantic drama films can be a rare occurrence.  

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