All of this is a complete lie. Comet is not set in a parallel universe; it is set in the same one we live in where people visit actual locations and make references to existing pop culture. Take away all but the last shot (more on that in a minute) and Comet would be nothing more than a standard indie relationship drama. It is not even a variant on Sliding Doors or Possible Lives all of the characters are the same ones and we are just seeing them at different points along the continuum of a single timeline. This is a film that regards parallel universe as nothing more than a phrase it can appropriate to mean whatever it wants certainly, Sam Esmail has no interest in using the term in the sense that anybody in quantum physics or writing serious science-fiction would. To that extent, Comet feels like a cheat.
What we in fact have is a relationship film that is trying to be wry, ironic and cute (and failing at all of these). I have to admit that Comet initially hooked me with its opening scene. There is a great piece where Justin Long is standing in a line at a Hollywood cemetery and demolishes Emmy Rossums date (Eric Winter) for his pretentions. Here the dialogue is a joyous dance and each wry zinger that Long delivers is music to the ears. Only it soon becomes apparent that this kind of wry ironic dialogue is the only thing that Comet has going for it. Indeed, for all the Justin Long characters slamming of Eric Winter for his pretensions and affectations of depth, it is something that you could just as equally accuse Sam Esmail of doing as a writer. Sample pieces of dialogue: You hate Pixar movies and still have an AOL account. I dont want to be with a person like that. This is a film that self-consciously namedrops Richard Dawkins and The Selfish Gene (1976) to establish its intellectual credibility or where a debate about splitting up has Emmy Rossum telling Justin Long: This is no time for one of your meta-arguments. If this is an example of the cinema that the hipster generation has in store for us, then I am begging please someone just shoot me now.
In reality, Comet seems so engaged in its meta-arguments that it disappears into a puff of its own self-admiring cleverness. Justin Long and Emmy Rossum seem to spend more time delivering wryly self-aware lines analysing what it means to be in or out of a relationship than they ever do actually being together. Almost anything that resembles scenes of them together as a couple occur outside of the films frame. There are the initial flirtatious scenes walking around the cemetery but these are upstaged by silly pieces like the visit to Edward Murrows grave or Justin Long monologuing about randomly approaching people and yelling give me the money. Both Justin Long and Emmy Rossum are actors at the peak of their game and give good performances through the course of the story (which essentially consist of a series of Before Sunrise (1995)-type monologues between the two of them) but Sam Esmails love of the cuteness of his own material kills the film dead in the water.
The only real reason for Comets inclusion here is the stated opening card that tells it is set several parallel universes over and the final shot of the sunrise where [PLOT SPOILERS] we see that this Earth has two suns. Although this does push Comet conclusively into genre territory, it is a nonsensical notion. It is like other arthouse films of recent such as Another Earth (2011), Melancholia (2011) or Upside Down (2012) that appropriate science-fictional ideas without any interest in what they mean or the science behind them. Esmail makes the ridiculous assumption that a world with two suns would end up identical to Earth in every single way right down to the replication of modern culture, places and films. In reality, a planet orbiting two suns would have a longer day/night ratio, very different climate, not to mention UV ray problems through the roof to say that human culture would have occurred in identical ways, not to mention human life even having evolved in tandem, seems an absurdly improbable notion.
Sam Esmail subsequently went on to conceive the story for the horror film Mockingbird (2014) and create the hit hacker tv series Mr Robot (2015 ).