I first heard of the movie Comet in 2015 and I was immediately hooked. The trailer, music, mood, cinematography all seemed so intriguing. Unfortunately, it was not playing at any theatres near me, and nor could I find it online. Hence I assumed that it would fall into the ‘movies I might watch years later’ category, like Proof did. My assumption was right, but I was off by the number of years, as I was able to watch it just three years after it was first released.
Comet is about two individuals, pessimistic, anxious, super-smart Dell (played by Justin Long) and his girlfriend Kimberly (played by Emmy Rossum). The opening scene alleges that this movie takes place over six years in parallel universes. As such, we’re treated to five different scenes of Dell and Kimberly. Among them, are when they first met, which was during a comet shower where Kimberly saved Dell’s life and Dell managed to talk/ distract Kimberly from her date and convince her into going out with him. We also get their “reunion” scene on a train where they presumably get back together after breaking things off, preventing Kimberly from getting with a new guy. There’s also a scene of them breaking up in Paris, where Dell is attempting to propose while Kimberly talks about her dissatisfaction with their relationship and breaks up with him. Similarly, there’s another break-up scene where Dell is in Los Angeles and Kimberly is in New York and the two are on a phone call where it is revealed that Kimberly’s been texting an old flame (the guy she was seeing during the train sequence) and Dell decides that they should break up. Finally, there’s a scene where Dell comes to meet Kimberly after they’ve been presumably broken up for years, but Kimberly’s in a relationship with the old flame this time.
These events don’t take place in chronological order and the movie flashes back and forth between them. So for example, we’d get one scene of Dell and Kimberly talking during the comet shower and then abruptly flash to Dell following Kimberly to a train. Once on the train, we’d flashback to the two of them in the Paris apartment before flashing back to the comet shower scene. Although the events seem to take place in one universe, the movie alleges that they took place in parallel universes. Building on this feeling (I guess), is the fact that the outside scenery sometimes changes during scenes. For example, while Dell and Kimberly are sitting together on the train, the train window appears to be showing a spot of space vs. the actual route of the train. Furthermore, the scenes sometimes break up weirdly. There’s static during some transition scenes, and even during some scenes in general.
On that topic, it’s also revealed that Dell’s been having dreams of the scenes we’ve been shown. This fact is actually revealed near the middle/end when Dell is in Kimberly’s apartment, where she lives with her boyfriend. Therefore, Kimberly posits the idea that maybe Dell is still dreaming (and dreamed all those scenes we witnessed as well) and kissing her will wake him up (because his dream ended before they kissed). This is supported by the fact that when Dell picks up Kimberly’s thesis book, all the words are gibberish, which is commonly assumed to happen in dreams (can’t read stuff in dreams). She also postulates that perhaps Dell died during the first scene (where he and Kimberly met, during the comet shower), and all the scenes Dell’s been dreaming of/ that we’ve been shown, are in fact those “life flashes right before you die” things. In fact, the ending scene seems to sort of echo this, as when Kimberly and Dell are talking on the roof of her apartment, there are two suns rising and the two suns could perhaps be the lights of the car hitting Dell? Or maybe the two suns are signs of the parallel universes that the movie implies?
Furthermore, the end scene itself presents a number of confusing interpretations. I’ve already mentioned the two suns rising theory (car vs. parallel universe). However, the scene itself also presents vague implications for their love story. On the roof, Dell confesses his love for her and asks her to come back to him, but she reveals that she’s pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. However, in the beginning of the movie, Dell told Kimberly that all relationships have a lie. He already confessed his lie to her in the beginning of the movie and told her to tell him a lie that he would believe when he was vulnerable. So maybe Kimberly’s pregnancy announcement was her lie to him? This is supported by the fact that while Dell ponders her pregnancy announcement, his hand touches his stomach, he pauses and then looks back at her and then walks toward her determinedly. Thereby, the assumption is that he realized that she lied and that he kissed her. Or maybe, he didn’t kiss her at all and decided to finally let her go? Or maybe, none of this even happened?
If you can’t tell already (LOL), this is a very confusing movie. However, the confusion actually works really well for this movie, at least in my opinion. Earlier in the movie, Kimberly had expressed a desire for time to cease existing and instead viewing life as a painting, with no discernible beginning, middle or end (“it’s just there”). Thus, one can view the entirety of the movie as that of a painting. We’re not really shown the chronological movements of their relationships (hell it’s not even clear if what we’re shown is the truth or not LOL), but we are shown moments. And I think the beauty of the movie lies in just that; the moments in their relationship. They just feel so real, despite the fact that the entire film is just so surreal (with the background scenery and musical score).
On that note, the acting was just absolutely phenomenal in this movie, especially Justin Long. He knocked it out of the park spectacularly. His quick-talking Dell was so great. On paper (Kimberly actually mentions this too LOL), Dell is a pretty horrible character. He’s selfish (he claims that he loves Kimberly because she loves him), cynical, and rude (he actually stalked her on the train). Yet, Justin Long makes him somewhat likeable. You actually feel for Dell and root for him. You want him to get his happy ending with Kimberly. On top of that, the entire movie basically rests on his shoulders. There’s really no other actors besides him and Emmy Rossum. Coming to talk about her, she was fantastic as well! Although Kimberly didn’t have much to do, other than reflecting Dell’s thoughts, Emmy still managed to imbue her with charm.
That’s actually a negative for this film though. It’s not visible immediately, but on reflection, it was quite obvious. Kimberly is really not fleshed out as a person. We don’t know much about her, especially compared to Dell. All we know, is that she used to be superficial when dating guys, wrote her thesis on the “Art of Science,” goes to a gun-range, and wasn’t a fan of MTV. That’s it really. She’s just a collection of random traits and thoughts. Whereas Dell is more of a cohesive character with a more distinctive background. For example, we know that he’s super smart, works in pharmaceuticals, created a wonder drug that “cured” his mother’s cancer, goes to therapy, has a motor mouth that gets him into trouble, is self-destructive, etc. In fact, a lot of the dialogue in the movie is mostly just Dell sprouting his thoughts and Kimberly reacting to it.
Yet, even with this critique (which is actually quite significant if I’m being honest), I still really like this movie. Not only are the performances fantastic, but the entire movie itself is really great, especially some of the quotes. Plus, the surreal feel and soundtrack are a treat to feel and watch too.
My rating: watch to enjoy a surreal drama about relationships and to enjoy Justin Long and Emmy Rossum’s acting prowess.