An exploration of string theory and the delicacy of relationships, Constellations is a complex idea executed with brilliant simplicity. A beekeeper, Roland (Leon Ford), and a theoretical physicist, Marianne (Alison Bell), meet at a barbeque. From there, all the pivotal moments in their potential relationship are shown, with dozens of possible outcomes.
Constellations will resonate with anyone who’s ever looked back on a relationship and wondered where they might be if certain events never took place. Marianne is passionate about quantum physics, which claims the existence of ‘multiverses’ — parallel universes coexisting with infinite possibilities within them. “Every choice that you ever and never made,” she hypothesises, already exists. Cleverly, the narrative structure also reflects this theory.
While the non-linear plot is complex, the rest is quite straightforward and it’s surprisingly easy to follow. With a minimalistic set and very few sound effects, there’s a lot riding on the script and chemistry between Ford and Bell – both do a sensational job of keeping up the fast-paced dialogue. Nick Payne’s intricate script heavily relies on nuances of tone and delivery, which impacts the outcome of each scenario.
If Constellations were a movie, it would be one you’d need to watch several times before truly grasping the brilliance of the work. Running with the idea of quantum string theory, it’s baffling to think how many different ways the story could have gone, and whether (in another universe) the characters of Marianne and Roland could have reached their capacity of emotional depth. But considering the scientific inspiration behind the story, it’s probably best that their relationship be kept relatively simple.
Regardless of this, Constellations doesn’t disappoint. What begins as a quirky game of ‘what if?’ between potential lovers turns on its head and proves to be absolutely heartbreaking.