Do a Shot: for each jaw-dropping visual.
Take a Drink: each time you don’t notice a scene transition.
Take a Drink: for each neurotic conversation
Take a Drink: to Justin Long being back in movies, I’m glad he’s back
By: Matt Conway (Three Beers) –
A lot of times in Hollywood an actor that appears to be the next big thing ends up not living up to that name. Sadly, one of the big examples of that has been Justin Long. Back in the earlier half of the millennium, many saw Long along with Jonah Hill as two of the biggest young comedic talents in the industry. Solid roles in comedies like Dodgeball and Accepted seemed to be the kind of roles that would propel him to greater heights. Instead, Long did not fully connect with the mainstream, with him mainly now doing independent films.
However, this new chapter in Long’s career has been a delightful one to watch. The talented Long has gotten the chance to become much more versatile, with solid comedies like Best Man Down and 10 Years giving him unique roles. Long has also become a fixture in horror films, with a starring role in Drag Me to Hell and now more recently Kevin Smith’s Tusk. Long’s latest, Comet, is another intriguing and ambitious project, that despite its flaws is quite captivating.
Comet follows the six-year relationship between Dell and Stephanie, going through some of the couple’s most impactful moments during their relationship.
What makes this film stand out from your typical love story is its unique way of storytelling. Director and writer Sam Esmail shows this relationship by cutting between different time periods throughout it, and this proves to actually work well. Esmail makes this unique device show the emotional states of their relationship, from their highs to their lows, with the time period in which they happened being less important. It’s surprisingly coherent and shows a range of their relationship and how they grow.
Visually, the film is quite impressive. Esmail and cinematographer Eric Koretz create one of the most visceral love stories ever. The film itself has a very unique look, with some fantastic lighting and precise framing creating some jaw-dropping visuals. This is even more impressive considering the film’s very limited budget, as Esmail and company uses their few resources to their limits. When so many films these days are content to just play it safe, it’s nice to see someone really try to create something unique visually. Not only that, but the visuals serve a purpose for the story, with the big visuals showing the weight the relationship has for the couple.
The performances as a whole are quite good. Long, instead of being the sympathetic Average Joe kind of guy that he is often type cast as, is a very cynical person with a quick wit. He is matched up with Emmy Rossum, who shares a similar quick wit and a great deal of brains. Both are able to make these somewhat cliche character types into very realized people with more to them then their general demeanor. Both actors evoke a lot of passion in the film, and both are producers, showing the passion they had towards it.
Comet is a film that depends solely on whether Long and Rossum’s relationship works, and for me it was quite compelling. Long and Rossum have great chemistry together, bouncing lines of dialogue off each other with a great deal of ease. The relationship, especially towards its later stages, takes some overall interesting turns, and it’s apparent to the audience why it means so much to both characters, Long’s in particular. This is capped off with an ending that leaves the door open and brings up some interesting questions.
While both actors are quite good in the film, the script at times can turn on their characters. Esmail sometimes judges his characters a bit too much, which makes them come off as very unlikable on occasion. This is especially the case towards the final third, in which the characters act with each other in ways that just felt a bit too mean-spirited.
Comet’s visuals are interesting and serve an emotional purpose, but do not always make the most sense. The film is about an hour and a half long, and I felt like the film could have been a bit longer, and expanded on some of the concepts the film brings up. It’s still a great device for storytelling, but just needs some polish.
Esmail’s script’s biggest downfall is its dialogue, which at times comes off as pretentious. Some of the lines are witty and get a laugh out of the audience, but others are rather unsuccessful. At times, it just comes off like Esmail is trying hard to capture hip adults, with some of the lines just not feeling authentic.
Comet, despite its flaws, is a heartfelt and ambitious romance that is one of the more unique films of the year so far. It does not always capitalize on its ideas, but it’s an earnest effort by all involved and certainly an engaging watch. Hopefully this means more interesting projects for Esmail coming up.