Clara is an awesome Canadian sci-fi drama and an engaging romantic story that explores the conundrums inherent in the inner world of intimate relationships and the outer world of space. All those who enjoy Neil deGrasse Tyson’s scientific probes and Carl Sagan’s pioneering work in the search for extraterrestrial life will appreciate the subtle and sophisticated examinations going on in this story: the quest for Earth-like exoplanets, the complications of Fermi’s paradox, and the Drake equation to the mechanics of astronomic observing. Combine the intellectual discourse with shots of planets transmitting a sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and the beautiful images of nebulae from the Hubble Space Telescope, and you end up with a very unusual movie.
Dr. Isaac Bruno (Patrick J. Adams) is a brilliant university astronomy professor and researcher who is obsessed with discovering a planet outside our solar system that is hospitable to the kind of life that exists on Earth. His ex-wife (Kristen Hager) has landed a prestigious job at a renowned astronomy laboratory; they separated over a tragic loss that has shut Isaac down emotionally. His one-and-only friend (Ennis Esner), another astronomy professor, is concerned about his mental health after Isaac is fired from his job.
This resilient scientist loves to pour through data and despite losing access to a telescope and other perks of his university job, he is determined to be part of the TESS project (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), which is trying to find planets that are of a similar size and make-up to Earth. Isaac puts aside his personal problems and decides to hire an assistant. Clara (Troian Bellisario), a bohemian artist who shares his fascination with the marvels of the universe, has no experience as a research intern and is living on the streets with her stray dog. But much to his surprise, they work well together with his discipline and her many insights into intuition, creativity, and spirituality. Together their yin and yang leads them to a major scientific discovery. In the process Clara does all she can to draw out his submerged love and trust.
Thanks to the top-drawer performances by Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario, this sci-fi drama opens many doors into our hearts and minds with its revelations about the mysteries that can give our lives meaning and wisdom. Writer and director Akash Sherman who is only 23 years old, has gifted us with an extraordinary film that stands beside Contact (1997), one our favorite sci-fi dramas of all time!