|Directed by||Akash Sherman|
|Produced by||Ari Lantos|
|Written by||Akash Sherman|
|Starring||Patrick J. Adams|
|Edited by||Matt Lyon|
Serendipity Point Films
Clara is a Canadian romantic science fiction film, directed by Akash Sherman and released on May 20th, 2018. The film stars husband and wife actors Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario, playing astrophysicist Isaac and itinerant artist Clara, respectively, searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe.
Dr. Isaac Bruno holds a postdoctoral research fellowship in astrophysics at (fictional) Ontario University, in Toronto. His goal of finding signs of intelligent life in the universe has become an obsession, linked to an unspecified trauma in his personal life two years earlier. He has become increasingly antagonistic towards his students and has taken to misappropriating time on ground-based telescopes in Chile, intended for a colleague’s research. His department head suspends him, denying him any access to the school’s research facilities.
The TESS orbiting telescope is launched, providing enormous amounts of data that is shared with the world, in a community effort to analyze and find possible life on exoplanets. Isaac posts flyers looking for an unpaid research assistant, offering nothing but room and board. His only response is from Clara, an uneducated artist who has lived a Bohemian lifestyle. Clara has her own secrets, seen taking some type of medicine for an unspecified issue.
Isaac focuses on results from M dwarf stars, believing it to be a niche that no one else will bother with. When Clara finds a promising exoplanet, Isaac sneaks into the university in the night and lies to the telescope operators in Chile, claiming to have permission from his friend Charlie, to get more data on the planet.
Charlie is furious, but also intrigued by the data results. He advises Isaac to contact Rebecca, Isaac‘s ex-wife, who holds an endowed chair at Caltech. Clara convinces Isaac to contact Rebecca, despite his reluctance. The upheaval in their lives is finally revealed, when Rebecca tells Isaac that finding life will not bring back their dead baby son. She gets him some time on the Keck telescope. This results in proving that they have found a habitable planet candidate.
Clara is falling in love with Isaac, but he has become jaded about love or anything else that can not be scientifically proven. She kisses him, then abruptly backs off when he starts to respond. When Charlie’s wife has a baby, Isaac pontificates on how a minuscule change took his own son, and could equally change the entire universe. Clara reminds him that those same minuscule changes did result in his son existing at all. This leads to them finally becoming a couple.
When they learn that someone else discovered “their” planet a week before them, Isaac becomes despondent. He soon decides to focus on finding direct evidence of life, rather than just a potentially habitable planet. In his obsession, he is blind to Clara’s declining health, until Charlie chastises him. Isaac tells Clara it is time for him to stop his search, but she makes him ignore the data and focus on his inner connection to the universe. He is surprised when it works, but rejects it and her. She grabs her bag to leave - and collapses.
At the hospital, it is revealed that Clara has an autoimmune disease that is causing the complete breakdown of every organ and muscle in her body. The doctors are shocked that she can even walk or talk, and confirm she will soon be dead. Isaac stays at her bedside for her last few days. Moments before she dies, she tells him he is going to “see it”.
A fresh batch of TESS data is released, and Isaac does “see it” - proof of a seemingly artificial object in coincident orbit with a exoplanet. He takes his findings to Charlie, who introduces him to Dr. Rickman, head of the TESS project. Two years later, at a press conference at the JPL, Dr. Rickman, Rebecca and Charlie explain that the data gathered now conclusively proves the existence of the artificial object, orbiting a star 200 light years distant, in turn proving the existence of intelligent alien life. Isaac is not in his assigned seat on the panel, choosing instead to spend time reminiscing about Clara.
A few months later, Rebecca summons Isaac to the SETI laboratory. She reveals that the aliens have sent a message—“Isaac Bruno”. He is present when the next message arrives – an audio file of a Bob Dylan song that he and Clara often listened to together. The film ends with Isaac smiling through his tears.
- Patrick J. Adams as Dr. Isaac Bruno
- Troian Bellisario as Clara
- Ennis Esmer as Dr. Charlie Durant
- Kristen Hager as Dr. Rebecca Jenkins
- R. H. Thomson as Dr. Rickman
- Jennifer Dale as Astrophysics Department Head
Production and release
- "Production begins on Serendipity Point’s Clara". Playback, March 7, 2017.
- "TIFF 2018: Rob Stewart, Denys Arcand, Jennifer Baichwal films among Canadian titles". Now, August 1, 2018.
- "Clara (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
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