Ingress is writer-director-star-producer Rachel Noll James’ feature-length debut. The sci-fi romance tackles several weight themes, including grief, schizophrenia, and the cost of never truly knowing one’s self. Is James too ambitious for a first-timer, or does she thoroughly convey the characters’ emotions in a cinematic manner?
Riley (Rachel Noll James) is reeling after her husband, Toby (Johnny Fero), died. She can still see glimpses of him, as Riley has the power to slip through alternate realities. In some of these, Toby is still alive, which does not help matters. Riley is elated to discover Daniel (Christopher Clark), a famous author who gets messages when an entity from another dimension takes over his body. At an event, Daniel is inhabited by Lucas (Tim DeKay), who calls out Riley by name, and what she hears moves her. Riley and Daniel meet up soon after and discuss their shared experiences with alternate realities. Can Riley, with Daniel’s help, stay in a dimension where Toby is still alive?
Ingress is a masterclass of emotional resonance and tenderness. The scene wherein Toby awkwardly asks for Riley’s number is amusing and sweet. The protagonist’s grief is deeply felt from the beginning, wherein Riley’s surroundings become fuzzy and change from one scene to another. She falls to her knees as this is happening. Daniel also has several profound exchanges, including one with a bitter childhood enemy about livelihoods and lying. It’s all very well-written and engaging.
“…discuss their shared experiences with alternate realities.”
The visuals are also top-notch. The moody, soft lighting bolsters the romance and sci-fi elements quite well. The effects that bring the alternate realities to life are simple but effective. The entire production feels like a dream you cannot wait to tell everyone about. It might be a little hazy and offbeat, but it’s wholly encompassing and worth remembering as much as possible.
Holding all the lofty ideas and heavy emotions together is the cast. James is stunning as the grieving, unsure woman. Riley’s inability to move on is authentic, as is the frustration it causes her. When Lucas takes over Daniel, Clark conveys the otherworldly aspects with conviction. His desperation to find someone who can understand what he’s going through is felt in every interaction with his co-lead. James and Clark’s chemistry is great, and the duo keeps the proceedings grounded.
Ingress is a bit of a slow burn in the first act. But as its strands come together and specific themes are honed in on, the story morphs into something remarkable and beautiful. The cast is excellent, and the leads share undeniable chemistry. The effects generate believable other worlds, and the lighting aids in mixing the romance and sci-fi elements. The themes are authentically explored and feel honest to these characters in this situation.
For more information, visit the official Ingress site.
"…like a dream you cannot wait to tell everyone about."