14 December 2014 | rooprect
Ever heard of an existentialist romcom?
People (myself included) often hear the word "existentialist" and start thinking about dark, brooding, nihilistic philosophies amounting to something like "life sucks and then you die." Sure, that's a rich tradition amongst existentialists, but there's another side of the coin.
The core theme of existentialism is the idea that we exist in an unfathomable universe without any predetermined right/wrong, and it is up to each of us to determine for ourselves what right/wrong is. That's what "Brightest Star" tackles in the guise of a romance about a guy trying to win back his ex-soulmate. It uses a poignant, recurring metaphor of the stars. The guy goes through life believing that "the brightest star" will one day appear and show him exactly what to do. But for some reason that star eludes him.
If you go into this expecting a standard romcom, you'll phase out by the 2nd act. If you're looking for a tidy Hollywood story with an eventful plot and bang finish, you'll end up hurling your popcorn at the screen. But if you're up for a challenging look at "finding your way" in love, life and logic, then this film delivers.
Some films are like freight trains, picking up momentum toward a singular destination. Other films take a deliberately wandering approach, with frequent jumps in the timeline, or episodic events that seem unrelated to each other. "Brightest Star" falls squarely into the 2nd category with the likes of other fragmented, soul-searching films like "(500) Days of Summer", "Forrest Gump" and even "Citizen Kane".
This is quite a bold directorial debut from Maggie Kelly, certainly not designed to be a crowd pleaser, but for those of you who stray off the beaten path into unwritten territory (like the main character who, if you notice, doesn't even have a name) then this film is for you.