Clara casts Patrick J. Adams as Isaac Bruno, a tenacious astronomer who, with the help of his new assistant (Troian Bellisario’s Clara), discovers what might just be a life-supporting planet – with the narrative detailing Isaac’s ongoing efforts at proving his hypothesis and also his growing fondness towards Bellisario’s character. Filmmaker Akash Sherman initially does an effective job of capturing the viewer’s interest, as Clara kicks off with a compelling sequence in which Isaac provides scientific proof that love doesn’t work – with the effectiveness of the scene heightened by Adams’ compelling turn as the morose central character. From there, however, the picture segues into a stagnant and somewhat tedious midsection devoted to Isaac and Clara’s less-than-enthralling work exploits – with the majority of this stuff certainly not quite as fascinating as Sherman clearly believes it to be. The well-intentioned but ineffective vibe is perpetuated by a growing emphasis on the protagonists’ tentative relationship, as the pair’s dynamic ultimately comes off as so egregiously hackneyed that it becomes more and more tiresome as time progresses (ie the whole quirky-girl-saves-a-grieving-protagonist thing is almost impossibly stale). And although the film ends with an admittedly stirring climax (to the extent that one can’t help but wish that stuff had occupied more screen time), Clara is, in the end, an earnest misfire that squanders its various positive attributes (including genuine chemistry between Adams and Bellisario’s respective characters).

** out of ****

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