Sam Esmail’s charming and transcendental feature debut, Comet, wastes no time addressing metaphysical themes while simultaneously introducing the angelic aura of Emmy Rossum. It’s a surprisingly elegant affair as Justin Long’s cerebral Dell acknowledges his faults and embraces the present with a direct approach to potential love. Technically, director Esmail utilizes a soft sell method and sets the tone for a magical tale with raw performances from both leads.
What’s special about a film like Comet is that both Rossum and Long are relatable as bumbling nerds and stylish sweethearts. When the pair first meet at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Dell’s intellectual musings reveal a character immersed in superficiality, which makes him less of a Jesse Eisenberg-styled persona and more of a soul lost within the madness. Enter Rossum and her endearing specs. Together they escape the bad vibes of Hollywood pretentiousness and set off on a cosmic journey where spirit trumps over all.
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While I don’t see Comet as a year-end sleeper for Top 10 lists, it’s definitely a visceral gem with exquisite acting from the leads (especially Rossum). With a hilarious sense of innocence, the Shameless star delivers lines such as “What the F — I thought we were gonna make it” and prances around in a grey tee as Dell stresses over a seemingly life-altering decision. Esmail may push Kimberly’s ignorance too far at times (along with Dell’s self-awareness), but the skilled actors manage to endear rather than annoy.
Moviegoers often focus on the WHYs rather than embracing small moments of movie magic. With Comet, Sam Esmail offers a fresh take on romance and allows his stars to shine with ingenuous performances.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.