I‘m still trying to wrap my head around James Ward Byrkit’s feature film debut Coherence, so forgive me if this review is a little all over the place. Byrkit somehow created a film of cosmic proportions without ever leaving the small setting of a dinner party, that in itself should be applauded. A simple set-up turns into a mind-bending nightmare as the film takes place on the night of an astronomical anomaly when eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality distorting events. And that’s putting it lightly. Trust me.
What’s crazy about this movie is how complex it is without actually being complex at all. Are you with me here? Byrkit is a man who you can tell knows how the sci-fi genre is supposed to work as he doesn’t waste our time trying to explain the complexities of multiple realities. Trying to dig into those layers when you only have 90 minutes to tell your story can be a disaster, and so he simply avoids it. How? A comet, that’s how. The film uses the comet—which happens to be passing earth when all of this goes down—as the grounds for why these characters become trapped in different realties. I love that. It’s simple and straight to the point.
But even if you take away all of these crazy complex elements that the film centers itself on, you have an intensely mystifying story that works on so many levels. I think that a lot of the film’s strengths come straight from the authentic reactions from its cast. Byrkit uniquely left them in the dark when it came to the script, creating an intense atmosphere of tension that is unmatched in any movie of the year so far. The reactions you see from the cast are as authentic as it gets, and Coherence absolutely shines because of it.
It’s a wild ride that will no doubt have your very own mind playing tricks on you as you struggle with trying to figure out where the twists and turns of its narrative are ultimately going to end up. Who do you trust in a film that asks you to trust no one? It’s a simple concept that takes a whole hell of a lot of talent and patience to pull off. Coherence nails it. I’m really not going to get much more into this one than that. I’m sure there are some folks out there making it way more confusing that it has to be, so I’m here to say go see it, enjoy it, and then watch it again.