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One Star Classics


/ Mind Benders

Coherence cover

To try to explain Coherence’s plot in any sort of detail is futile. One thing is that it’s a challenging movie to follow – a common trait in quantum-physics-inspired movies – another is that the twists and turns are what make this largely improvised movie utterly fascinating.

The gist: A group of friends meets for a dinner party the same evening a meteor passes earth. Strange things start happening. The power goes out as cellphone screens shatter. Eerie knocks come from the back door. And as the guest’s doppelgängers appear, it becomes clear that the meteor has triggered a collapse of parallel universes.

That’s about as close I can get to sum up a premise, which soon becomes a whole lot more involved. There are some glaring echoes of the cult-favorite Primer here, but Coherence is overall easier to follow. I’m not an expert (in the slightest) on the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment – which is the basis of the movie – but Coherence is, in the lack of a better word, coherent. Hold your breath and pay attention, and you will be able to follow the story through.

As mentioned, the film is primarily improvised, and impressively so. The actors did not receive scripts but rather individual notes before each day of filming. All interactions and reactions are genuine. Notice Kevin’s (Maury Sterling) face when he tries to leave the house, and Em (Emily Baldoni) forcefully stops him. Those kinds of surprised expressions are the beauty of improvisation. (Acting is reacting as Chad Everett said in Mulholland Drive.)

Director James Ward Byrkit filmed the movie chronologically, and the actors never knew what ending they were moving toward. That further increased the tension in the performances, and Coherence can be stressfully eerie at times.

It’s hard to say much more about this film. One thing is that I don’t know enough about quantum physics to express any particularly intelligent musings; another is that Coherence needs to be experienced to be understood. Odds are that most will enjoy Coherence, as it never gets too incomprehensible, just charmingly baffling.

As far as a mind-bender goes, Coherence sits right up there with the best of them.

By Remi,

Letterboxd summary: On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events.

Ratings from around the web

Icon Site Score
One Star Classics logo One Star Classics 5/6
Letterboxd logo Letterboxd 3.7/5
IMDb logo IMDb 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes logo Rotten Tomatoes 88/100
Amazon logo Amazon 3.8/5
One Star Classics logo Classicmeter™ 80%