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'Coherence': a strong showing

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Coherence

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Now that the always-fun madness of Austin's Fantastic Fest 2013 has died down, I can reflect on the films I saw (and more importantly, report on them). I did have a chance to write reviews on the sure-to-be-controversial comedy Detective Downs, and one of the best thrillers I've seen for years called Grand Piano. Another strong showing at last week's genre film festival was the sci-fi thriller Coherence, a film that explores not only concepts of quantum physics, but also the human psyche.

The film starts with a dinner party where some old friends are getting together on the night a comet is supposed to pass the earth. Some of the eight guests assembled are old friends who haven't seen each other in some time, some have been romantically involved, and some have hidden ties not readily apparent.

An interesting dinner party turns soon into subtle tension-fraught verbal sparring. But that's nothing to the sci-fi bizarro-world that creeps up on the unsuspecting party after the Miller's Comet passes by. Suddenly the power goes out, and after a visit to another house down the road, everyone realizes the world has changed.

With a great ensemble cast, this indie sci-fi is surprisingly both intelligent and entertaining. Coherence is a great study of an intimate gathering, with all the subtle innuendoes and brewing drama, but it's also a hard sci-fi dealing with the mind blowing concepts of quantum physics and alternate dimensions.

Writer/director James Byrkit did a great job handling the characters and the interplay between them seemed natural yet compelling. Xander Harris..ooops, I mean Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays a character who was once famous for his part on the TV series Roswell but is now washed up. This is a particularly funny meta casting moment as the actor Brendon is pretty much known only for his role on Buffy, and hasn't done anything of note since.

Those sic-fi buffs out there will appreciate the intriguing logic loops in Coherence, while indie film buffs can appreciate the subtle interplay between the characters. It's a simple set-up that sky-dives into universe-shaking quantum physical horrors, and it's a must-see for anyone who can appreciate innovative film.

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