Facebook Twitter

CLARA: 3 STARS. “low-key and yet ambitious, it’s about the power of loss and discovery.”

No one will accuse “Clara” director/co-writer Akash Sherman of playing it safe. For his debut feature the twenty-something filmmaker essays no less a topic than the existence of life in outer space.

Suits star Patrick J. Adams is Dr. Isaac Bruno, a university professor placed on sabbatical when his obsession to find life on other planets gets in the way of him doing his job. Time off is no remedy for his fixation and he continues his search with the help of a co-worker Dr. Charlie Durant (Ennis Esmer ) and a research assistant named Clara (Troian Bellisario).

Bruno is a facts and figures guy, a pragmatist who studies the data looking for connections, desperate to fill the hole left in his heart by the death of his child by finding new life in the universe.

Clara is more abstract, a believer in the randomness of the universe beyond the numbers and maps. The push and pull between their approaches makes for a rocky relationship but her spiritualism may hold the roadmap for Isaac’s quest.

Austere, low-key and yet ambitious, “Clara” is about the power of loss and discovery. Add in a big dollop of spirituality and you have a movie that isn’t quite sci fi even though it spends much of its time ruminating on speculative themes. It’s solemn and often feels overwrought, asking question after question without offering much in the way of insight or true emotion.

Director Sherman shows an undeniable eye for composition and atmosphere. It’s in the storytelling that “Clara” wobbles. The push-and-pull between objectivity and intuition is interesting but overplayed to the point of exhaustion. The climax reaches for the stars, offering a hopeful note, that will strike some as poetic, others as the very definition of schmaltz.

Comments are closed.