Clara Parent Guide
A reasonably interesting film that raises existential questions in a non-threatening way.
Parent Movie Review
Clara is a difficult movie to categorize. It is a romantic drama that often has a somber tone. It is a space story that never leaves earth. It asks big questions and gives answers that feel forced and manipulative. It is also a pretty decent production for viewers who enjoy debating complex questions on the way home from the theater.
The movie opens with Dr. Isaac Bruno (Patrick J Adams), a post-doctoral research fellow who is obsessed with finding life somewhere else in the universe. This fixation leads him to redirect the university’s scheduled telescope time for his own research interests, resulting in a forced leave of absence. Without access to the university’s computers or telescopes, Isaac decides to continue his research on his own. He advertises for a research assistant, offering room and board instead of a salary. Enter Clara.
Clara (Troian Bellisasio) is a free spirit with wanderlust, a childhood spent in foster care, and a secret. She is also an artist, and a painting of hers hung on campus has captivated Isaac. Her passion for space and her yearning to find out if anything is “out there” apparently compensates for her lack of relevant experience and Isaac hires her.
Kudos to the filmmakers for not making the relationship between Isaac and Clara too easy. There is no instant chemistry and they move slowly from fellow researchers to friends to lovers. As they get to know each other, Clara (and the audience) uncover the personal tragedy that drives Isaac’s determination to find life in space. The pair also spend time in conversation, discovering each other’s beliefs and opinions and having frequent disagreements as to whether there is a purpose behind life and the universe or whether everything is the result of chance. As the couple are watching a projection of the galaxy in Isaac’s apartment, Clara sighs, “It seems too beautiful to be random.” Isaac shoots back, “It’s beautiful because it’s random.”
Moviegoers concerned about negative content need have few worries about Clara. As of this review date, it has not received an MPAA rating, but it has been rated PG in Canada and that rating is appropriate. With a handful of moderate profanities, no violence, rare social drinking, and a sexual relationship that is implied but not shown, this movie ticks the boxes for reasonably clean viewing. The biggest concern parents will have relates to honesty and ethics. Once Isaac and Clara have found a potentially inhabitable planet, they need time on a powerful telescope to validate their data. Having lost his university access, Isaac is stumped, until he decides to break into the university, assume his best friend’s identity over the phone, and once again misappropriate university telescope time – a move that almost costs his friend’s job.
These issues aside, the real strength of this movie is that it asks big questions of both its stars and the audience. Its biggest weakness is that the answers are unsatisfying. Not only do they “jump the shark” but they are also annoyingly saccharine - which is a jarring contrast to the film’s unsentimental beginnings. If you are looking for a profound meditation on the universe, Clara is not the film for you. But if you are looking for a reasonably interesting film that raises existential questions in a non-threatening way, book your seat and buy some popcorn.Directed by Akash Sherman. Starring Patrick J. Adams, Troian Bellisario, and Will Bowes. Running time: 85 minutes. Theatrical release December 1, 2018. Updated December 7, 2018
Watch the trailer for Clara
Rating & Content Info
Why is Clara rated Not Rated? Clara is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: None noted.
Sexual Content: An unmarried man and woman kiss. They are briefly seen together in bed the next morning but the woman is barely visible and is blurred.
Profanity: There are a handful of mild and moderate curse words.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Friends drink beer in a bar. A woman takes appropriate prescription medication.
Page last updated December 7, 2018
Clara Parents' Guide
Isaac is convinced that the universe and life are a result of chance. Clara believes that there is a greater purpose behind the universe. What do you think? Why? Have you ever had a discussion with someone whose beliefs on this topic are different from yours? What did you learn from them?
Clara tells Isaac that she can’t explain “why bad things happen to good people”. What do you believe? Do you have religious or ethical beliefs that help you deal with undeserved suffering? What do you do to cope when you experience adversity that seems unfair or undeserved? How do you help others in those situations?
Read books about Clara
Overwhelmed by the magnitude of space as seen in Clara? Bring it down to bite-sized chunks with Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Teens and adults.
Astronomy doesn’t only connect with art. Try Stephon Alexander’s The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe. Suitable for teens with a solid grounding in math and physics.
Outer space’s breathtaking views provide inspiration for artists and for armchair enthusiasts. Take a look at National Geographic’s The Hubble Cosmos: 25 Years of New Vistas in Space for some inspiration.
If you want to relax and enjoy the meditative beauty of space, try Lauren Ashbury’s coloring book for adults: Coloring the Cosmos: A Meditative Adult Coloring Book Experience. You might also enjoy Russ Focus’ Doodle Space Coloring Book.
Related home video titles:
Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist, is recruited to help understand communications from aliens who have arrived on earth from another planet. Arrival tells the story of her earthshaking discoveries.
An astronomer is the main character in The Core, a science fiction drama starring Aaron Eckhart and Stanley Tucci.