Monday, May 13, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: Clementine

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

Directed by Lara Gallagher
US Narrative Competition

It’s hard to predict how someone will react to a breakup, and their behavior in the immediate aftermath may be completely different from how they normally operate. Retreating from society is a common step for those who have the ability to detach temporarily from daily life, which can be both therapeutic and also merely serve to prolong a separation from a regular routine that will inevitably have to be resumed. However impermanent or unrealistic that separation may be, it has the potential to be hypnotic and transformative, if even just for a short while.

Karen (Otmara Marrero) arrives at the lake house of her former girlfriend, attempting to recover from a painful breakup in a space that is definitely not her own. Though she interacts with almost no one else, she does begin to forge a friendship with a mysterious younger woman, Lana (Sydney Sweeney), who shows up outside looking for a ride home. As the two of them explore their own loneliness, they discover a comfort with each other despite knowing very little about their backgrounds.

This film has a strange tone to it, one underscored by mystery about what Karen might be hiding about her relationship and what Lana’s motivations are for spending so much time with Karen. The flirtation that builds throughout the film is foreboding, creating a hypnotizing experience that should serve to draw in audiences. Whether there is anything waiting to be discovered after having watched the film is another matter, but the journey there is presented in such a way that it feels worthwhile traveling to learn more.

The primary reason that this film’s setup works is the talent of its two stars. Marrero, from “StartUp,” delivers a vulnerable performance as Karen, who, at age twenty-nine, thinks she has some sense of where her life is supposed to end up but is in no position to get started on it anytime soon. Sweeney, from “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Time Adolescence,” portrays Lana as someone eager to make a friend who talks too much, seeming social when she’s really revealing nothing about herself. Watching these two interact on screen is an engaging experience that doesn’t redeem itself as entirely original or vital. Its technical elements and structure outweigh its narrative content, which is held up by the performances at its center which serve as its true driving force.


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