Review by Bradley Smith
Emotional. Heartbreaking. Intriguing. Clara is a simple, grounded love story surrounded by astronomy, the search for life in the universe, and art. If Avengers isn’t your cup of tea or you need a cleanser after that epic conclusion, Clara might be the little gem for you.
Isaac Bruno (Patrick J. Adams) is a man with two first names… and no family name (side note – this line popped into my head as a bad joke that I wasn’t going to include, but it kinda fits given the backstory in the movie). But seriously, Isaac is an astronomer/professor, depressed by some trauma in his past, obsessed with the search for life in the universe. He spends so much time looking for life elsewhere, that he almost completely ignores the new possibilities that are around him unless it helps him in his search. Enter Clara.
Clara (Troian Bellisario) is more of a free spirited artist who is also deeply interested in the search for life… or she’s just homeless, in need of a place to crash, and willing to learn and at least pretend to be enthusiastic… or she’s something more; not sure- the film’s ending had me scratching my head (I will likely watch it again soon, if not before finishing this). Isaac lets Clara move in for his unpaid space exploration internship, for which she is nowhere near qualified, but he literally has no other takers. Even though boundaries are clearly established at the onset, a deep connection develops and leads to something astronomical.
There is a lot of science and math talk (probably just lost half the readers) and a lot of depressing plot points (there goes the other half), but buried in all that is a grain of hope and optimism and love. The first scene sets the stage for the movie: clearly depressed, seemingly about his search for life though we quickly learn different, Isaac tells a class half full of college students that he thinks there is a better chance of finding life in the universe than there is in finding love that doesn’t hurt you. Which I have to be honest, seems like a fair conclusion, even without the numbers that he presents; though I did find the numbers interesting; more so if they are true.
The acting and dialogue were realistic. I like learning about space and astronomy, but I am by no means an expert and I bought most of Isaac’s astronomy talk. I know even less about relationships and I also bought the relationship between Isaac and Clara, though that may not have been acting (they are married off-screen). The music is pleasing and the visual effects were beautiful though their use and placement seemed odd at first. Most of the plot does not exactly create a joyful movie that’ll make the audience feel warm and fuzzy, but it has ideas, concepts, and space worth exploring.