May 1, 2019 Clara (Movie Review)
There is much in the universe that is unknown. Scientists are tirelessly searching to find out if life is possible outside the current knowledge of Earth. These thoughts in mind, Toronto-based Filmmaker Akash Sherman (The Rocket List 2015, Four in the Morning 2016) has created a unique Sci-Fi experience using the quest to find life in the vastness of space in his new movie Clara, which will arrive in theaters and On Demand on May 3rd, 2019 via Screen Media.
An official selection at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, the story of Clara follows Dr. Isaac Bruno (Patrick J. Adams: Suits 2011, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow 2016), a frustrated astronomer who is obsessed with finding the possibility of life in the universe. Nothing in his life has gone as planned as evidence in his failed marriage to Dr. Rebecca Jenkins (Kristen Hager: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem 2007, Wanted 2008). Only data and proof mean anything to him. His obsession cost him his access to the precious data from the recently launched Tess telescope. Both the university and his friend, Dr. Charlie Durant (Ennis Esmer: Blindspot 2015, Private Eyes 2016) encourage him to take a break and find something else to focus on for a while.
Isaac will not be dissuaded from his mission to comb through the data and find the first possible Earth candidate. He puts out an ad to find a research assistant to help him comb through the data to find the discovery of a lifetime. The only applicant is Clara (Troian Bellisario: Pretty Little Liars series, Feed 2017), a nomadic artist with no formal education in the field, but with a passion for the beauty of space. The two form an unlikely partnership and begin their tedious search for life in the universe. Is there really a viable Earth candidate somewhere out there? Will Isaac be able to find it before someone else does? Will Clara’s improbable presence finally allow Isaac to find the ultimate discovery?
Dr. Isaac Bruno is in a cycle of depression and grief. His professional life has not turned out how he expected. The only solid personal relationship he has is with his friend, Charlie. At the opening of the film and throughout he is desperately trying to find a purpose in his life. Every scene from the university to his apartment has a dullness to it. The only bright spots is whenever Clara is present, and the viewer sees the world through her eyes. This is an interesting technique as it mirrors the perspective of Isaac’s outlook on life. He is stuck in a place where nothing matters but results and cannot see the beauty in anything in front of him, and that does include the space that he loves so much.
Adams’s Isaac and Bellisario’s Clara are polar opposites. Isaac is practical and only believes in proof. Science and facts are what control his life. Clara, on the other hand, is moved by faith and feelings. They are what the other needs. He insists on proof and she has a strong urge to travel and “create her own stories.” The chemistry between the two is interesting. There is an awkwardness that permeates the screen, yet there will be no question to the viewer that they belong in each other’s lives. The awkwardness seems to stem from the guarded nature each of them still have for the other. Both are harboring major secrets and fears that once known changes each forever.
Science and the search for life in the universe is a major theme in Clara. There is a much bigger picture than space, though. The quest for knowledge of the unknown also relates to unlocking what has been buried inside Isaac. Clara beautifully and organically allows for Isaac to fight through everything he has been struggling with in order to find a path to peace within himself. It is an interesting example of someone believing one thing will lead to life fulfillment and happiness, but life throws a curve ball and changes everything. Science is all about facts but that does not mean that there is not humanity still present within it.
Clara is a film about a search for something great-something that no one else has found yet. Dr. Isaac Bruno and Clara are looking to the stars to find that fulfillment, but that might not be where the answers lie. The actors and their characters are compelling and will draw the viewer in immediately. Clara might also inspire some to continue to search for the great unknown. It is for these reasons that Cryptic Rock gives Clara 4.5 out of 5 stars.