‘Coherence’ is the most buzzed about, micro-budget science-fiction film of the year

Coherence movie

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Coherence
Written  and directed by James Ward Byrkit
USA 2013 

We are who we are, even when we’re not. This is the playfully frightening twist posed on an old Twilight Zone episode in director James Wart Byrkit’s directorial debut.

Coherence re-visits such a concept, as several friends and couples gather for a dinner party the night a comet is passing overhead. Bykirt’s opening scenes play more like something out of a mumblecore movie, with harsh, thirty-something, improvised bitterness seeping between friendly smiles. Soon, strange happenings begin to occur; cell phone screens suddenly crack, loud noises are heard outside. When the lights of the whole city block are shut off save for one mysterious house at the top of the hill, the friends go to investigate only to find in the house something…oddly familiar.

Thus begins the old doppelganger guessing game of who’s who only with a refreshing change in rules: the characters themselves might well be their own worst enemies long before the comet glides above them. Also, rather than without fully explaining the supernatural occurrences, Byrkit is more than willing to supply the audience with answers. Sometimes these answers come with a heavy-hand, as one character happens to have a book about metaphysics.

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As the happenings get more complicated, as do the characters. Beginning as longtime friends that practice in friendly (and less than friendly) verbal sniping, Cohesion allows their jealousies and biases slowly reveal themselves. These secret betrayals threaten any kind of friendship even without a doppelganger. As paranoia begins to take hold, so to Unlike Dennis Illadis’ similarly-themed Plus One, Cohesion boasts a cast of mostly unknowns who come off as far more realistic, if not equally shallow in nature.

Byrkit creates a palpable sense of eerie paranoia. One particular well-shot set piece finds one of the lead’s running past various houses featuring her friends in different scenarios, all leading up to a climax as dizzying resolution.

– Kenny Hedges

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