“Comet” follows the lives of two lovers through the six years of their relationship. It is told in a unique style, that leaves you wondering and bewildered at the beginning of the movie and emotionally devastated in the end. From the very beginning of the movie, the filmmaker warns us that we are about to watch the one story but told over several different realities.
Over the course of six years, we follow the passionate and complicated relationship of the bright, skeptical Kimberly (Emmy Rossum) and the tightly wound Dell (Justin Long). They randomly meet at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary to see a meteor shows. We follow this relationship to Paris, New York, on a train to Chico and the Hollywood Hills. The six chapters of their romance are interspliced with each other; jumping from one chapter to the next, back to the first. The movie is woven together in a tight, cohesive manner thanks to Esmail’s script and editor Franklin Peterson.
“Comet” is a comedy drama from writer/director Sam Esmail. The film just had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 13. It is a prime example of a movie that grabs you by the collar and drags you into the action. There is no sitting back in your seat watching “Comet.”
The reason the movie is shot over several different realities and is mentioned in the movie. When we are in long-term relationships and looking back, our memories of the relationship are specific moments of dramatic changes to the relationship. We don’t see our lives as a long narrative but as singular moments, like a painting.
Esmail takes these moments of Kimberly and Dell’s relationship and paints distinct pictures of each moment, different from the others. In his brilliance, each moment has its own style and visual palette to heighten that moment. When Kimberly and Dell meet at Hollywood Forever, Esmail gives us a bright, hopeful, rom-com-like scene. In Paris, the tone is dark and noir. In New York, the scene is shot with an 80’s outdoor vibe with Kimberly’s scene driving a car in Los Angeles with really big hair and Dell on a New York Street outside a bar. Think about it this way, you are watching six distinct styles of movies featuring the same character, same plot and connected together by one overall cohesive movie.
Emmy Rossum and Justin Long are on screen together for the entire movie. They chemistry is perfect to pull off this complicated story. Long has the comedic timing perfect with Rossum playing his straight person. Rossum’s sweetness also counters Long’s sometimes brutal honesty.
The movie is beautifully shot throughout Los Angeles. Esmail frames most of the action off-center on screen. During the Q&A session, Esmail was asked why he did it and his response was the love of shooting in this style. What the off-center framing does is that it forces the audience to move their eyes around the screen, rather than staying focused on the center. By movie, the eyes, the audience is actively engaging in the movie and this is especially helpful in a dialogue heavy movie.
Another amazing star in “Comet” is the soundtrack composed by Daniel Hart. He created a big grand score that elevates a movie about two people to a larger-than-life movie. The score makes the emotions of the characters on stage bigger.
“Comet” is a masterful film that takes you on an emotionally-charged roller coaster thanks to its story of love found, lost, found again, lost again; its fabulous cinematography and framing choices and powerful score from Hart. If you’ve ever wanted to say you’ve seen an “art film,” this is it. It’s a hilariously funny and poignant movie that will leave you devastated in your seat when its over.