Clementine (United States, 2019)May 05, 2020
The movie starts out with a degree of promise. A young
woman, suffering through the aftermath of a traumatic breakup, travels to her
former lover’s lake house, breaks in, and sets up home. Everything about it –
the cinematography, the pace, the score, and numerous directorial choices – hint
at the strong beginning of an erotic thriller. There’s a tiny problem, though:
Clementine is neither erotic nor a thriller. Instead, it purports to be
a character piece about the friendship that develops between the lead character
and a younger girl. The way in which it is presented by first-time feature
director Lara Jean Gallagher is slow, awkward, and pretentious. The movie could
have benefitted from some heat but, for whatever reason (perhaps afraid of the
movie being tagged as exploitative) Gallagher doesn’t go there. (She might have
benefitted from studying how the French do this sort of thing.)
Otmara Marrero plays Karen, whose relationship with an
older, wealthy woman named only as “D” (Sonya Walger) ends badly. The specifics
aren’t revealed and aren’t germane to the story but, when we first meet Karen
(following a brief prologue), she has been locked out of the home she shared
with her lover (and denied access to her dog). She seeks refuge at D’s Pacific
Northwest lake house, where she acts as if she belongs. She isn’t the
only trespasser on the property, however. Lana (Sydney Sweeney) is staying at a
house across the lake and uses D’s dock for sunning and swimming. The two
connect but the awkwardness in their friendship is fueled in part by Karen’s
attraction to the younger girl and Lana’s bi-curiosity. The evolving relationship
takes a turn, however, when unsurprising (and somewhat clichéd) secrets are revealed.
Meanwhile, D remains in the background, making subtly threatening phone calls
and employing a handyman (Will Brittain) to keep an eye on the intruder.
Two problems are immediately obvious about Clementine.
The first is that neither character feels real. They aren’t believable; they’re
a writer’s constructs. Putting aside questions of logic – and there are a lot
of those – everything about the way Karen and Lana interact reeks of artifice.
The second problem compounds the issues. Neither actress – relative newcomer
Marrero, who bears a passing resemblance to a young Rosario Dawson, and the
more seasoned (but younger) Sweeney – inhabits her character with any degree of
credibility. They exhibit no chemistry and, as a result, any sexual frisson
between them dissipates before the viewer is aware of it.
Andres Karu’s lush cinematography (the movie is admittedly gorgeous) and Katy Jarzebowski’s discordant score seem like they were designed for a different movie. The setting and the manner in which they are presented on film is ideal for a psychological thriller or a horror film but neither matches the director’s intentions. This creates a weird dissonance between the low-key, emotionally fragile relationship and expectations established by the music and visual cues. Even had the technical elements been more in synch with the tone, screenwriting problems abound. The ending isn’t only anticlimactic, it’s disappointing on many levels. By the end of the last act, I didn’t care about either of the characters. Ten minutes into the movie, my level of engagement was high. By the end, however, I wanted to move on. The only reason I stuck it out until the end credits is because it’s unfair to write a review without seeing the entire movie. Since the average viewer doesn’t have that obligation, it’s open question whether many will stay for the duration.
Clementine (United States, 2019)
Cast: Otmara Marrero, Sydney Sweeney, Sonya Walger, Will Brittain
Screenplay: Lara Jean Gallagher
Cinematography: Andres Karu
Music: Katy Jarzebowski
U.S. Distributor: Oscilloscope
- (There are no more better movies of Otmara Marrero)
- (There are no more worst movies of Otmara Marrero)
- (There are no more better movies of Sydney Sweeney)
- (There are no more worst movies of Sydney Sweeney)
- (There are no more better movies of Sonya Walger)
- (There are no more worst movies of Sonya Walger)