A large part of my summer was spent obsessing over the new TV series from USA (of all the networks!) called “Mr. Robot.” The searingly smart and clever series (that will return for a second season next summer) was created by Sam Esmail, a relative unknown in an age where the Shonda Rhimeses of the world reign supreme. (Not to say I’m talking trash on Shonda Rhimes. “Grey’s Anatomy” still makes me feel all the feelings on a regular basis and I’m desperate to figure out this season’s mystery on “How to Get Away With Murder.” Shonda’s great.) What “Mr. Robot” did was bring a real cinematic quality to TV, something I hadn’t really seen before and loved. It quickly became one of my favorite new series of the last five years and as the show’s creator, Esmail certainly had a lot to do with that.
But this isn’t a “Mr. Robot” review. (If you want that, check out my review of “Mr. Robot’s” pilot episode on Moviefone!) This is a review of Esmail’s first big project before “Mr. Robot,” a film he wrote and directed called “Comet.” I saw that it had popped up on Netflix over the summer and have been itching to watch it ever since “Mr. Robot’s” first season ended. And while it didn’t exactly give me the same “THIS IS AMAZING” feeling that “Mr. Robot” did, it certainly proved even more so that Esmail is a real force to be reckoned with.
“Comet” tells the story of Kimberly and Dell (played by Emmy Rossum and Justin Long, respectively) a couple trying to navigate the many potential pitfalls that come with being in a relationship. The film bounces back and forth between five key points in their six-year relationship, where they ruminate on life, love and time, among many other things. Some of their back and forth felt a little “smart for smart’s sake,” but overall they both came off as quirky and somewhat endearing (which definitely had a lot do to with Rossum and Long’s excellent performances). It was a non-linear style of storytelling that I don’t think I’ve really seen much in more romantic fare, but it worked…for the most part, at least.
I say “for the most part”, because the non-linear style seemed like it was intended to play into the other aspect of the film’s plot, which was the idea of parallel universes. This whole concept felt like an afterthought in the world of the film, so much so that it was only really mentioned near the end. It was almost like Esmail was trying to say, “Don’t worry if you don’t like romantic movies! This isn’t just a romantic movie! It’s a sci-fi film too!” It just didn’t work. I was much more interested in the main story; it didn’t really need an additional level of plot like that. It also made the character’s personalities seem somewhat inconsistent, but I wonder if that was intentional, like Esmail was trying to show that people aren’t always like they are when you first meet them. If that was the intent, then those inconsistencies can be excused.
What made the film really great (and what Esmail seems to have mastered) was the way that it looked. I mean, it was really visually stunning. The coloring throughout gave the film a gorgeous, dream-like feel (which may have been intentional) and Esmail used very interesting angles in his direction that reminded me of what I love so much about “Mr. Robot.” Any shot could have easily been taken out and put up in an art museum; it was that beautiful.
Overall, I’d say I definitely enjoyed the movie. While it didn’t have the same finesse that “Mr. Robot” has, it was very thoughtful and appealing. I look forward to seeing what else Esmail has up his sleeve.
If you’ve seen “Comet” (or decide to watch it on Netflix or Amazon after reading this review, which I definitely think you should) let me know your thoughts in the comments! And if you’re as OBSESSED with “Mr. Robot” as I am, let me know in the comments too. I always have time to talk about that show.