Combustible Celluloid
With: Otmara Marrero, Sydney Sweeney, Will Brittain, Sonya Walger
Written by: Lara Gallagher
Directed by: Lara Gallagher
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 90
Date: 05/08/2020

Clementine (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Oranges & Apples

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Making her feature writing and directing debut, Lara Gallagher's drifting, moody, poem-like Clementine is a drama about women trying to recover from painful emotional wallops. (It's available in virtual cinemas May 8, 2020. Check the official site for info on where to stream.)

Frequently occupying the film frame alone, Otmara Marrero (Crackle's series Startup) stars as Karen, who has just suffered a breakup from an older, established artist (Sonya Walger).

A distraught Karen decides to go to the artist's lush, woodsy, lakeside vacation home. She breaks in and makes herself at home, taking down a painting that holds painful memories, and finding a stash of pot and a gun in a desk drawer.

It's not long before Karen spots Lana (Sydney Sweeney), lying Lolita-like near the lake. Pouty and mysterious, she seems older than she looks, and she says she's 19.

The two begin spending time together, though Karen remains on her guard. When she confesses that "I'm not really supposed to be here," Lana replies, "neither am I."

Things become complicated when Beau (Will Brittain) shows up, reportedly to trim some branches. He begins to squeeze his way between the twosome, to Lana's apparent delight, and to Karen's definite distaste.

It's not an entirely dynamic or pulsing movie. However, the fact that Karen has technically broken the law and could at any minute be caught — and the fact that the phone keeps ringing — certainly underlines the drama and adds a nervous tension.

Certainly Lana is keeping dark secrets, and that aforementioned gun does come back into the picture, but Clementine is more about trying to define feelings than it is about what happens next. Indeed, the title refers not to a person, but to the fruit, which is plucked away or tossed, rather than consumed.

To be sure, Karen's inner struggle, between trying to contain her pain and new feelings trying to come out, set against the quiet, dreamy backdrop, is enough to keep Clementine interesting.

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