Lara Gallagher's 'Clementine' screens at Frameline43

Clementine (Property of Clementine Movie LLC)

By Moira Sullivan

Clementine by Portland based filmmaker Lara Gallagher debuted at the Tribeca film festival this year and made its way to the Frameline Film Festival at the palatial Castro theater on June 28. Gallagher received an MFA in directing at Columbia and is a talented story teller. Her first feature comes after a several creative shorts and music videos with a grant from Biennale College, a filmmaking production program at the Venice Film Festival. On top of that Gallagher received support from Sundance and  the Independent Filmmakers Program’s Emerging Storytellers distinction in 2015. Plus she also crowd funded some the expenses with her Portland team.

Clementine is a refreshing film with believable lesbian characters – albeit too young to be ageists!  Gallagher shows promise as a narrative filmmaker on the rise. Her film has a noir edge and one only wonders what will happen in her next feature. Karen (Otmara Marrero) – (Annie in Off the Rails), decides to travel to her ex-lover's cabin who goes by "D" (British veteran Sonya Walger ) just to spite her, and besides, she kept their dog. Her ex-lover’s presence is felt throughout the cabin with massive hanging abstract paintings of huge globs of color especially an imposing one over the bed, far from sensual but definitely commanding and authoritarian. It does not seem like a good match just for how eclipsed Karen seems. It isn’t a perfect match either when she meets 17-year-old Lana (played by Sydney Sweeney).

Clementine has "a gun and a girl" – Godard’s adage for the basic requirements for a film – and there is a sort of creepy handyman named Beau hanging around the cabin making himself more than useful (Will Britain). Alone in a cabin with a gun she may or may not need, Karen gets a knock on the door from Lana – she asks for a ride to find her dog and becomes a regular drop-in. She helps herself to Karens’s clothes, nail polish and bathrobe after asking if they can sleep together in the same bed since she is afraid. Precocious Lana gets Karens’s attention – who is still wincing from the fallout from her long-term relationship. It looks innocent enough but when Lana gets too friendly with Beau there are definite warning signs that Karens's young neighbor shows all the insecurities of her generation and none of the smarts. Lana is also a great storyteller and it’s hard to figure out if her cries for help are legitimate. On top of that the soundtrack crescendos at all the right moments.

Clementine has all the ingredients and promise of a good thriller with a triangle – not only with Beau but the absent D who calls all the time. So what's with the Clementine – it is one of those memorable objects that sinks to the bottom of the lake in the rugged out of doors nearby a middle class neighborhood . Gallagher surprises us and plays on our voyeurism in a female centric narrative of fantasy and suspense.

Here now is Lara Jean Gallagher in an exclusive interview for Movie Magazine International (Note: this interview broadcast with review),

© 2019 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 07/03/19
Movie Magazine International