Saturday, June 21, 2014

COHERENCE 2nd Viewing Movie Review - Javi's Take

Directed by: James Byrkit
Written by: James Byrkit
Starring: Emily Foxler, Nicholas Brendon, Maury Sterling, Elizabeth Gracen, Lorene Scafaria, Lauren Maher, Hugo Armstrong and Alex Manugian
Synopsis: A group of friends gets together for a dinner party when a comet passing by the earth starts to have some unexpected side effects.

This is a special review for the upcoming Oscilloscope Labs release, COHERENCE. I previously reviewed and love the movie back when I first saw it in Fantastic Fest 2013. That review will be appropriate for those that have not seen the movie and don't want to be spoiled. Given the nature of the movie and just how dense it is, this review will focus on my impression of seeing it a 2nd time where I know what will happen and can focus on the details. Needless to say, there will be spoilers, and this review takes into account that you have seen the movie all the way and know the character, but you can always check out my Fantastic Fest 2013 review

COHERENCE is a dense movie. With its complicated premise of alternate realities created by a passing comet, it deserves to be seen multiple times. Once you get past the premise of quantum decoherence and its multiple parallel realities, it's imperative to then watch it to see the clues and cues that the director plants through the movie to let you know which characters are more than they seem.

One of the aspects of the movie that came to the forefront this time around was the mystery aspect of it. While the first viewing of this movie felt more of an existential and philosophical examination of our regret and questioning our choices, this time was more about noticing the subtle foreshadowing of future events or of things not being all quite there. It definitely felt more of cerebral experience rather than an emotional one. Now that we know that the first time that Amir and Hugh come back, they are not from the original timeline. And we know that when Emily comes back after inspecting Hugh's car into the house, that she's not in her original house.

One of the worst aspects of the movie the first time seeing it was having to sit through these loud scenes where all of the party guests argue, yell, and panic at each other. It felt like those scenes belonged in a different movie and while they were meant to heighten the feeling of dread and concern between the group of friends, it came off as more like people acting hyperbolically. True, no one can know how you would react when you realize you have a double out there somewhere in the dark, but it still felt off. Regardless, the annoying fight scenes could be explained away from the fact that the impostors such as the first set of Amir and Hugh that come back, are trying create strife within the group to be able to get back to their respective realities.

In addition, it was easier to try to keep track of a theoretical number of the amount of alternate realities. Well, it's "easier" but by the author's estimates there are at least 12 realities that we have seen. This is, of course left to debate, since there are times such as the last half of the movie, where you see that there are two Mikes that are tied up and they show a green and a red glow stick. Are we meant to assume that this was the continuation of Beth's original timeline just much later after she leaves the house? Who knows, but it is interesting to think about the fact that whenever you see an "impostor"  they could all potentially be from completely different reality we don't know about.

What's interesting is taking a look at the "science" behind some of the concepts of the movie is how it takes the concept of Schrodinger's Cat and Quantum Decoherence and manipulates them into their own purposes for thematic reasons. Schrodinger's Cat is the famous "is the cat in the box dead or alive experiment" that has become a thing in pop culture. Despite the fact that this experiment was used to highlight the flaws of the "Copenhagen Interpretation," in the movie, it's used to talk about the potential for alternate realities where both realities of the cat being dead or alive exist at the same time until you open the box. Then, Hugh mentions Quantum Decoherence, which is supposed to keep these two alternate realities separate from each other so that they exist at the same time. Without getting too bogged down, it basically separates two waves from a complementary state, usually causing some type of disruption just like in the movie.

It was a great experience watching COHERENCE for a second time. While the first viewing leaves you drained after wrapping your head around its concept, the second viewing affords you the ability to look past the premise and see the details hidden beneath the plot. With shades of an almost science fiction "whodunit," COHERENCE is one of the most exciting science fiction movies to come out in a long time.

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