CLARA (Akash Sherman). 105 minutes. Opens Friday (November 30). See listing. Rating: NNN
Hard science meets fuzzy spirituality in writer/director Akash Sherman’s first feature, which casts Patrick J. Adams (Suits) as Dr. Isaac Bruno, a Toronto astrophysicist whose obsession with finding life beyond our solar system threatens to blind him to the possibility of a meaningful relationship with his empathetic assistant Clara (Troian Bellisario).
Working in a kind of cosmic Cameron Crowe mode, Sherman tries to mix the manic-pixie-dream-girl genre with some considerably weightier themes, placing the elements of his big climactic revelation as carefully as Clara lays out the little stones she always carries with her.
Which isn’t to say the film doesn’t have its moments: real-life partners Adams and Bellisario are very sweet together, and Ennis Esmer and Kristen Hager infuse their supporting roles with an impatience and a bewilderment that’s entirely reasonable, given the way Isaac treats them.
And though the finale is clearly very meaningful to the film’s maker, an outside observer might see the whole of this film as prelude: it’s a story that stops just where it ought to begin.