Movie Reviews

Clara – A Chemistry-Driven Sci-Fi Drama

A real-life married couple excel in a decent Canadian sci-fi film.

Synopsis: An astronomer becomes obsessed with searching the cosmos for signs of life beyond Earth which leads to a shocking discovery.  (D Films)

Starring: Patrick J. Adams, Troian Bellisario, and Ennis Esmer

Writer: Akash Sherman

Director: Akash Sherman

Rating: PG (Canada/United States)

Running Time: 106mins

Trailer: 

This type of story has been played out countless times before in films, opposites attract and change each other’s lives, usually for the better. This new film takes that familiar storyline and gives it a sci-fi twist. The story was about an astrophysicist named Dr. Isaac Bruno (Adams) and a free-spirited wanderer named Clara (Bellisario) who form an unlikely bond that would inevitably evolve into something more. While it may not have been evident to them early on, Bruno and Clara needed each other for reasons that would become apparent as the story went on.

Bruno was intelligent but he was also very distant and sheltered, however, it would come from a position of great pain after losing his newborn child. This loss set him on a downward spiral and fueled his obsession with finding signs of intelligent life beyond Earth. Despite being shunned by the academic community, he was unwilling to give up. Faced with finally solving his obsession alone, he needed some help. By chance, Clara answered the call. Though she didn’t exactly have the scientific background that Bruno was looking for, it clearly wouldn’t matter to him as she would fill another void.

Clara, on the other hand, was a little more of a mystery. The story didn’t go nearly far enough with her character. While it was clear that she would figure into the plot somehow, there wasn’t that much to her (and what did didn’t really matter all that much) and often felt like a plot device meant to get Bruno to open up rather than an actual character. Because of this, it was difficult to connect with her on an emotional level. Despite this, Bruno and Clara were very compelling to watch together as was Bruno’s arc over the course of the film.

Over the course of working together, Clara would help Bruno move on from his troubled past as he would be hounded by visions of these traumatic moments. There would be plenty of adversity but the outcome was inevitable. Despite its inevitability, it didn’t make it less powerful. However, the ending will be a contentious one for some viewers. Without giving anything away, what it would all amount to will surely confound (as it did for me) and divide viewers. In addition to that, it felt unnecessary as the film could have ended sooner and only padded the film’s running time by an extra 10 minutes.

The story may be a familiar one but the acting, specifically the performances by Adams and Bellisario as Bruno and Clara respectively, helped overcome it. Their excellent chemistry was the best part of the film. Being married to one another, it made sense why Adams and Bellisario would have chemistry. They definitely used this to their advantage here by creating a believable couple that were fun to watch throughout. Adams had more to do here in showing some impressive range while Bellisario held her own and did her best with what she had.

Overall, this was a decent sci-fi drama whose overly familiar story was elevated by the performances and the real-life chemistry of Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario. The characters may not be as deep as they could be and the story may not hit the landing but it was still a compelling watch with plenty of beautiful imagery along the way and another worthy Canadian film to watch if you can find it.

Score: 7.5/10

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