TBT: ‘Comet’ Unconventionally Pulls Your Heartstrings

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Great Dialogue | Unconventional | Full of Love

I’m a sucker for love stories, probably because I’m a hopeless romantic on a good day. I enjoy watching two star-crossed lovers meet, and I enjoy watching either the guy or girl or both fighting to be with the one they love. “Comet” is a little different. It’s not simply about a guy trying to get a girl or a girl playing hard to get. It’s about the entire journey we like to call a “relationship.” We’ve all been in some kind of relationship before, but the one that usually sticks out to us is the “first love.” It’s the relationship you remember the most and compare the rest to, leaving you in a state of confusion where you want to let that first love go, but you always find yourself needing that person at random times. Those random times make you remember the good and bad moments of that relationship, just like the journey “Comet” takes you on.

“Comet” hit close to home with me, and I’m sure it will do the same for many people out there. The film might have a lot of exposition and feelings expressed through words instead of actions, but it all adds up to an emotional, reminiscent, and crisp experience.

Cinematics – 5

The director and writer, Sam Esmail, is the man. After the first five minutes passed, I understood that this was a passion project that had been eating away at his psyche for years and years. The same love and passion we see the characters showing each other can be seen in Esmail’s filmmaking. With the story/universe being a little unconventional, the film’s cinematography takes on the same nature with masterful, careful, and crisp shots that will honestly make any film student drool.

The performances by Emmy Rossum and Justin Long show why they’ve remained in the business for so long since their days as teenage actors. I do have to talk about Justin Long a little bit more, though. I’ve always believed he had something special and was incredibly talented, but we only received glimpses of it through his work over the years. It’s really not his fault, though. Sometimes actors have to take the first roles that come to them in order to pay the bills, which accumulate over time and create a label for that particular actor.

Justin Long as the quirky, ingenious, and half-crazy Dell.

Justin Long as the quirky, ingenious, and half-crazy Dell.

But, now he has “Comet,” where he gives an excellent performance as the quirky, ingenious, and half-crazy Dell. The chemistry between Rossum and Long is near perfect, which helps immensely during the scenes of dialogue. And this film is almost 100% dialogue, so it’s good that these two great actors were able to captivate the audience with their talents, words, and chemistry.

Add all of that with great bits of comedy and a touching soundtrack that underscores every moment beautifully, “Comet” is a wonderfully made film. It stays true to the standard plot points of a Hollywood film, but in a more unconventional way. Since the film takes place over six years, we don’t see the events in chronological order, creating a disconnection that fits the film’s theme and, also, the theme of a broken relationship. It’s a stylistic choice that pays off in the end, but some may find themselves confused as to if these two lovers are in parallel universes or if the man in the relationship, Dell, is just insane.

Entertainment Value – 4.5

I enjoyed this film. It’s as simple as that. I enjoyed watching the different stages of Dell and Kimberly’s (Rossum) relationship unfold. Mainly because it reminded me of one of my own relationships, so my heartstrings and emotions were taken advantage of at several moments during the film.

At first, I didn’t know what I wanted from this film. I didn’t know if I wanted to see the lovers be together forever or if I wanted to see them kiss just one more time. The film introduces you to the characters (in excellent fashion by the way), shows you how they meet, and then you basically watch their relationship grow and crumble at different points in time, creating a weird “What am I supposed to be watching” kind of confusion. But, at the same time of this confusion, I wanted to see what would happen. I loved listening to the banter and conversation between Dell and Kimberly; it made each scene exciting and filled it with wonder and emotion.

By the end of the film, I realized that this story, even though it’s told in an unconventional way, is just like many love stories that have been told on film. The reason why Esmail decided to tell it in this particular way goes back to one of the film’s themes: the “parallel universe.” Esmail uses this to create the notion that each stage of a relationship is a different universe because relationships continually grow and fall as its inhabitants grow up and grow apart.

Emmy Rossum as Kimberly

Emmy Rossum as Kimberly

Compare Dell and Kimberly at the beginning to how they are at the end, and you’ll see how it is literally like a parallel universe. It’s an interesting theme to have in a romance like this, but it fits it perfectly, especially with all of the film’s abstract transitions and events that only seem to be noticed by Dell.

This is where I was left a little confused though, and it might take me a few more viewings to actually understand it. I understand the story occurs in a parallel universe to ours (they state that at the beginning of the film), but it’s hard for me to understand if this film has one Universal setting or six. In the end, it doesn’t really matter because the film is more about the journey these two people go on instead of when and where it occurs, yet it’s still something I would like to know for sure, especially with the abstract transitions and events that occur. There’s a secret hidden within those and I want to find it.

Rewatchability – 3 (Not Because It’s Boring)

Other than to try to understand the “parallel universe” theme a little better, I really have no reason to watch this again. “Comet” isn’t bad by any means, but it reminded me of my past relationships so much that I don’t need to watch it multiple times in a year.

Kimberly and Dell

Kimberly and Dell

I might check it out again if I need some inspiration for dialogue or good romance storytelling techniques, but I definitely wouldn’t pull it out while I’m on a date But it is a film everyone should watch, even just to see how Emmy Rossum and Justin Long have grown as actors.

If I was teaching a film class, I would pull this one out to show my students that you don’t have to follow conventional standards and tell a conventional “Hollywood” story. Sometimes a story is simply about the journey, not the climax or the ending.

  • Cinematics
  • Entertainment Value
  • Rewatchability

Summary

“Comet” is a beautifully made film with awesome performances, an incredible love story, and a wonderful musical score to back it up. The film’s dialogue and character development make you fall in love with its universe in the first five minutes, keeping you locked-in for the entire ride. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be surprised how a film that’s nearly 100% dialogue plucks your heartstrings. The story is told and filmed in an unconventional way that may take a few viewings to completely understand, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best love stories to hit the silver screen, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

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Matt

Author: Matt

Seeing "Stand By Me" at the age of 6 solidified Matt's ambition to be a part of the entertainment industry. After growing up in Northern Virginia, studying film at Old Dominion University and rising from intern to Stage Manager at a Dinner Theater, Matt found himself at a speed bump in his life and wanting to express himself in more of a substantial way than calling a cue or flying a line every night. This need for creative expression pushed him to take on the challenge of getting a Master's Degree, which sent him on a year-long endeavor that seemed to throw obstacles and setbacks from every direction. But now, Matt is a screenwriter with a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a passion for film, video games and professional wrestling, looking to keep the ambitious 6-year-old inside of him alive by entertaining the world through various forms of entertainment.

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