Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Coherence (2013)


Coherence (James Ward Byrkit, 2013)

A dinner party is being held, and eight friends of the young professional type gather for a presumably nice evening of food & drink and conversation. But that night something out of the ordinary -and from outer space- will appear to disturb the party: the passing of a comet in the proximity of Earth. And during the time of the passing, some unexpected things will happen to the very structure of space-time. At first in a discreet unnoticeable way, more visibly later.

So at some point at dinner, and even before it, you'll have mobile screens cracking, lights going out or wifi going down -which leads to sudden incomunication and not little alarm for these (sub)urban individuals of the 2010s. First thing they ask themselves: are these disturbances somehow related to the passing of the comet? Unease increases as they go through the evening. During their meetup, they talk over their drinks and dishes, and we learn of their lives, their past relationships, their vital goals or little frustrations, and we can start to figure out what's their psychological makeup, or how they are going to behave -each of them- in the face of this approaching disruption of the universe.

And what is happening to the houses nearby? Are they through the same thing, the same aforementioned weird events, lights going out, wifi going down? Those taking place over there as well? Some of the friends decide to venture outside and try to find out, and they end up by doing a disturbing discovery: the other houses around are inhibited by people who look exactly like them. People who are propably them! There appears to be, by their place, some sort of an unlimited wheel of houses like their own, containing the same lot...of themselves! And the film turns into some sort of quantum version of Buñuel's The Exterminating Angel. 

A wheel of universes 

They will reach a conclusion. The comet has produced some kind of damage or disturbance in the fabric of the universe. How could that be? Wait, why could not that be? Let's not forget after all that the Universe at work is in itself deeply weird, as quantum mechanics has revealed to us and still reveals constantly. Ours is a world, which is in a way nonsensical at first sight, and even the mere existence of any given being is quite unbelievable as it is extremely unlikely, if you think of it. Why is there something instead of nothing? is quite a (first) question. And yes, particles only come into existence when observed, says quantum physics. And one of possible states emerges just when the system is observed. So why couldn't it be possible that alternative universes exist, like those defined by Hugh Everett III?

Why could there not be un unexpected event -the passing of a comet or anything of the sort- that suddenly alters the universe, so that it will reveal hidden (so far) aspects of its nature? The famous Schrödinger cat thought experiment had been thrown in during the dinner as a key idea to understand what might be happening. To try to explain this unexpected wheel of parallel universes: of parallel houses each containing the full identical lot of them.  So here we are, deep into the evening-night, this initially nice gathering disrupted, a menace of unconceivable nature pending over the house. The Everett universes stressing out the (sub)urban friends, A science-fiction scenario set up for good old human nature to display. How are these characters going to react to the quantum challenge?

Going for it 

Sometimes (or yet more often than sometimes) we feel miserable in our lifes, and we start fantasizing about the idea that, had we done things in a slightly different manner, the outcome would have been hugely different. Hapiness and satisfaction, which we sense so far from us in our actual circumstance, would be right here making our ordinary reality. What if one of those happy parallel worlds is inhabited by another self who is living a fullfilled life of harmony? And so without having neither more talents o more intelligence than we have, only having enjoyed more luck or (slightly) better decision making? If only we could enter that parallel world! We could so easily reach what we deserve! What are we to do in order to get it? Could we even get to the point of, say, killing?

Tonight's gathering is at Mike's (Nicholas Brendon); two of the friends attending the dinner are Emily (Emily Baldoni) and Kevin (Maurey Sterling), who are now a couple. Another of the guests is Kevin's ex, Laurie (Lauren Maher), to the annoyance of Emily. Let's put the lens on Emily. She appears to be rather insecure about her life outlook and the choices she made that, through the years, built up this life she now has. Probably she feels that what she has achieved is under her true potencial. And she probably has lost herself sometime into fantasies of parallel worlds. Out of her dialogues we can guess a bit of what's inside her mind. At some point she will make a decision: she truly deserves another existence, a different outcome. Now, happily provided by an unnerving cosmical disruption, she has a chance to alter. And (even to the point of killing?) she will go for it.

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