2014 Film Essays

The Elegant Ingenuity of Sam Esmail’s ‘Comet’


It’s a mad, mad world and sometimes an excursion amongst the late Hollywood greats opens up the mind (and the heart). Sam Esmail’s charming and transcendental feature debut, Comet, wastes no time addressing metaphysical themes while simultaneously introducing the angelic aura of Ms. 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.

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. In the case of Comet, Sam Esmail offers a fresh take on romance and allows his stars to shine with ingenuous performances.

Q.V. Hough is on Twitter


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