My Take – Its almost impossible to pull of a film that revolves around just two characters, that to in a science fiction romance! The amount of risks are really high, what if your leads don’t have chemistry? What we we don’t believe their relationship? What if we just find ONE of them likable? What if people dont understand the concept? Boy you’re in serious trouble. Luckily debutant director & Emmy Rossum’s husband Sam Esmail doesn’t disappoint! This film takes place in a parallel world & revolves around the six years of a relationship between Dell (Long) and Kimberly (Rossum) in inter cut scenes of its biggest moments—meet-cute, break-up, get-back-together, break-up, etc. The narrative jumps from scene to scene out of chronological order, and yet Esmail’s script still builds effectively, which is a more notable accomplishment than you may realize.
We have seen plenty of Scenes of a Relationship films but the construction is unique as Esmail reveals just enough about his characters at each point in their trajectory to really fill in the gaps between them. It feels like Esmail, Long and Rossum really know and love these characters. So while it may be overwritten, it is soulful and truthful. That matters a lot in such kind of films. Dell is pessimistic to a fault, the kind of guy who lives in the “five-minutes-from-now” moment due to the constant worry of being disappointed. While Kimberly lives in the now. Dell falls for her the minute he sees her, in one of those Comet Streaks Across the Sky moments that most of us believe only happens in movies and the cynical can’t forgive when it does. He falls so hard, that he asks for her number in front of her truly annoying boyfriend! Dell doesn’t want to miss the “now,” as he has so often in his life. Each scene is fully constructed and fascinating in its own right! A couple years in their relationship, Kim and Dell are getting ready for a friend’s wedding in Paris. Their relationship is at a crucial turning point, but it feels like at least one of them is about to make the wrong decision. These are two characters who can’t quite get on the same page, as is so common in relationships—one is in the now and one is in the five-minutes-from-now. The movie is barely in news, even though the leads are quite well known (one of my favorites), well we can blame Long for starring & producing (at times) some of the most badly written cliche filled rom coms.
However it features career-best work by Long (after Tusk) and Rossum, both eagerly devouring Esmail’s witty script. Yes, some of it is overwritten and a bit too clever for its own good, but more often it’s an engaging character piece. Long plays insufferable in a way that still allows him to seem charming, and he definitely carries the majority of the chemistry between himself and Rossum. She keeps up with the banter well enough. If she could have conveyed some sort of inner wisdom, it would have worked in her favor, but she seems to delight in her character’s insensibility and takes for granted that Kimberly is simply wanted. On the whole Comet is a a showcase for Long and Rossum, and they shine in that spotlight in unexpected ways. While it could have been another love story about unrealistic people and irrational infatuation, Comet manages to hold to the indie film spirit. Which makes it, perhaps impractically, immensely easy to enjoy & Sam Esmail makes sure of it!
Director – Sam Esmail
Rated – R
Run Time – 91 minutes