Premiering during Tribeca, Clementine might be a slowly paced film but has a lot to offer when it comes to commentary on relationships.
The gist of the film is that Karen (Otmara Marrero) gets into a complicated relationship with Lana (Sydney Sweeney) after breaking into ex-girlfriend D’s (Sonya Walger) lake house. When we first meet Karen, she’s in a very vulnerable position. She once shared a home and dog, Ramsey, with D. But with the locks now changed, Karen heads to the lake house in Oregon. Breaking in through the window is a bad idea and the cuts on her hand show it. We don’t meet Lana until nearly 12 minutes into the film. When Lana enters the picture, she’s looking for her lost dog.
The film’s strongest moments only come with writer-director Lara Jean Gallagher gives the film some space to breathe. It’s the quiet moments in the film that are often the most powerful. Gallagher takes both of these characters on a journey even when they aren’t realizing it.
Both Karen and Lana are at different parts in their lives. It’s no surprise that Karen takes some of her emotions and passes them on to Lana. Just as there is a cycle of abuse that gets repeated in life, there’s a cycle of hurt that gets repeated in relationships. The cycle is always continuing whether its intended or not. Even when we don’t realize we’re doing it, we’re somehow still doing it. Gallagher’s framing of the film really manages to drive this particular point home.
Clementine is an impressive feature debut for writer-director Lara Jean Gallagher. It’s clearly a personal film for Gallagher and no doubt one in which the writing was likely cathartic. The film feels so realistic in what we see take place on screen. While the pacing may be just a bit slow for my comfort, the drama is the type of film that we look to discover during film festivals. As a filmmaker, Lara Jean Gallagher is a true discovery. What Gallagher gives us is a strong relationship between two strong female characters. It’s 2019 so relationships on screen shouldn’t have to be just man and woman. As uncomfortable as some people might be, it’s nice for others to see themselves depicted on screen.
Clementine is a coming-of-age story that gives us a new perspective when it comes to the cycle of hurt.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Lara Jean Gallagher
CAST: Otmara Marrero, Sydney Sweeney, Will Brittain, and Sonya Walger