Dir. James Ward Byrkit
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Wham! Bam! Thank you mam! Every now and then comes a film that gives that little bit more and here lies a picture that packs a punch, straight to the brain. ‘Coherence’ is a psychological sci-fi film that deals with the idea of parallel reality.
A group of friends get together for a social gathering on the evening of a passing comet. However events escalate to another level when they learn that they may not be sharing the company of whom they first thought.
From ‘Sliding Doors’ to ‘Mr Nobody’, the exploration of alternative reality is nothing new and even the writers (director Byrkit and star Alex Manugian) reference the former in a tight knit script between the cast. Where ‘Coherence’ comes out on top is its adherence to sticking to a firm budget and never revealing more than it needs to, confining its interweaving story between the script and actions of each of the actors. Much like Mike Cahill’s ‘Another Earth’, James Ward Byrkit keeps the science fiction at a distance yet never too far that it’s out of sight, a film making skill that is never taught from such talent as Byrkit has shown here.
Even in the midst of confusion and trauma, the cast hold a sense of fear that translate through screen and the eventual possibilities of the events unfolding justify the tension throughout. Rested in between soap opera and thriller, each character shows a darker side that leads to a conflict of interest between the reality and alternative options that offer themselves to its cast. As with the night sky, the movie is full of stars and a shining comet in Emily Baldoni whose conflict and understanding never make a complete picture, but one that shows just enough to show rationale.
There is no denying that ‘Coherence’ is a mindfuck and quite contrary to the definition of coherence. Once the revelations open up, it’s never quite known what really is going on, who is who, and what will become of a band of friends who over one mysterious night, may leave without the answers they greatly desire. Yet despite needing more than one viewing to fully understand, maybe even three or four, this will give an opportunity to see a piece of art that unfolds not with meaning, but with an open welcome to the possibility of, “What if...?”