Danielle Deadwyler looking up at the sky in the middle of the forrest in Parallel

‘Parallel’ Takes Us Into Alternate Realities Where We Don’t Know Who To Trust

4/5 tree portals

Parallel is the kind of movie that will keep you guessing even as the credits roll. Never quite knowing what “space” we are in, the audience is really set up to make their own decisions about what to believe as Vanessa (Danielle Deadwyler) travels through different worlds to try to find her own.

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Vanessa and her husband Alex (Aldis Hodge) have suffered from the loss of their son, who died in a car accident when Vanessa was driving. In her desperation to try to find some kind of solace, Vanessa goes into the woods to discover that there is a mysterious portal in the middle of the trees that takes her to different spaces in time where her life is just slightly altered.

While the plot of Parallel can get complicated if you think too deeply about it, the film (written by Hodge and his brother and co-star Edwin Hodge alongside Jonathan Keasey) shines in the performances that Deadwyler and Aldis and Edwin Hodge bring to this family. Kourosh Ahari’s simple direction lets us focus on what we want to believe in Vanessa’s quest to make it back to her original timeline.

Vanessa goes through multiple spaces to find her own while also searching for some universe where her son didn’t die. What she discovers are timelines where she was not the one driving the car and some where she had no son at all, and she’s reminded at every turn how she wants to just find where she belongs in this universe.

All of this is sold to us through Deadwyler’s ability to make us want Vanessa to find happiness. It’s not necessarily about her finding her space, but instead finding where she can be happy and whole like she was with her son and husband.

Multiple Alexes, but who to trust?

One of the things in Parallel that is very fascinating to watch is how Hodge approaches Alex as a character. His relationship to his brother (played by his actual brother, Edwin Hodge) never changes too much across timelines, and the brothers are, for the most part, there for each other. There are variations of course, but they are still brothers who care about each other. With Alex and Vanessa’s relationship, there are lots of different variations at play in each scenario.

The Alex we end up getting to spend a lot of time with is one she meets while she is trying to get back to her original space, talking with him about how this all plays out. He is searching for his Vanessa, who left him, and she’s just trying to get home. So, what we see is how our Vanessa can adjust to a new kind of Alex, and Hodge’s performance of all the different versions of Alex really helps us to understand how each slight variation on the same man could effect him.

The final moments of Parallel really stand out because when we think there is a solution, the audience is instantly given something to think about. It lets us decide what it all means and where Vanessa is in the end, and that’s one of the most exciting parts of Parallel.

(featured image: Vertical Entertainment)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.