A smart subversion of science-fiction convention, James Ward Byrkit's Coherence is a mostly well-judged experiment in employing abstract concepts to toy with perceptions of narrative and character, mostly. Its insistence on a scientific explanation for its jarring twists proves a more satisfactory one than most similar movies provide, lending at least a sliver of feasibility to Byrkit's design. It's only when he struggles to navigate an equally satisfactory route out of the intriguing jumble of space and time that he has so deftly created that he truly stumbles, though there's a fitting futility to this, since he implies that his lead character's attempts to dupe the laws of physics with physicality are of little consequence. Not that this will assuage those who feel that he has, essentially, copped out of constructing a conclusion that makes as much sense, relatively, as the rest of his film. Relatively, because no matter how pointedly he employs such lofty matters as quantum physics to justify the machinations of his plot, Byrkit doesn't offer a very convincing argument for doing so at all, simply tossing around complex notions in the hope that a lot of portentous style might deflect from the shallowness of his overall design, in that regard. As a cinematic puzzle, however, Coherence is a delectable mystery, with questions it only clearly defines when it suggests the answers, leaving our minds baffled until it does so. It's also, at its core, a strong character picture, relying principally on the individual social intercourses of eight friends, performed with touching empathy, written with a tart hint of satire. And in this regard, Coherence is at its smartest, most satisfactory, and most relevant.