For Reel

Coherence (2013)
February 29, 2016, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: James Ward Byrkit
3 Stars
CoherenceShot mostly in a living room over the course of five days and relying heavily on improvisation between the eight actors involved, Coherence sounds like it could have been a loosely-sketched, self-indulgent exercise that allows the actors to have free rein over the film. But, though writer-director James Ward Byrkit credits his actors with developing much of their own dialogue, it is clear in the delivery of his premise that the plot has been worked through exhaustively, its exploration of a complex game of theoretical physics making one question at every turn what, and who, is actually involved in the dramatics of the scene. It’s an ingenious idea–a concept that forgives inconsistencies at every turn because of its very nature. Unfortunately, if the mechanics of this premise are enough to keep the picture afloat, Byrkit’s handling of the actors leaves something to be desired. Early on (before the unusual things begin to occur), the power goes out and there’s a knock on the door, leaving the whole cast to wail in horror and grab a weapon to defend themselves. Disregarding the fact that the behavior is aggressively unnatural, the problem is that there is nowhere to go from here. Paranoia is something that escalates in the best examples of the genre–it often feels like a snowball rolling down a hill–but Coherence has no sense of this tonal control. But, as an episode of The Twilight Zone, it is consistently engaging, and the subplot involving an ex-ballerina’s (Emily Foxler) insurmountable regrets paying off in a way that reimagines Mike Cahill’s Another Earth with even higher stakes.