3 coherence

Coherence takes place almost entirely within a single house, and yet it truly resides in an incredibly expansive existence. A group of friends gathers for a dinner party. The scene is filled with the sort of easygoing banter that carries with it a complicated shared history, include a few passing hints of resentments and conflicts previously addressed and bypassed but not quite forgiven. In the midst of all this chatter arises curious, largely unworried conversation about news stories about a comet passing through the night sky. Then the power goes out. From there, James Ward Byrkit’s feature directorial debut spins off in deliriously inventive directions, all of them tied neatly to some mind-warping principles of quantum mechanics. By his own report, Byrkit created the film as a sort of puzzle he had to solve, recruiting actors with improvisational skills and giving them minimal information about the strange plot turns they were going to encounter. The film carries the spirit of The Twilight Zone as effectively as anything I’ve ever seen, not only in its employment of edgy paranormal elements, but also — mostly, even — in its canny ability to depict the myriad ways that human nature drives people to turn on each other when they’re under mounting duress. With a bracing intellectual energy and a exhilarating command of sharp tonal shifts dealt out with devious regularity, Byrkit makes a film that dazzles in its relentless ingenuity.

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