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Film Review: “Clover” Is a Dark Comedy As Devoid of Laughs As It Is Originality

Written by: Hannah Tran | April 3rd, 2020

Film poster: “Clover”

Clover (Jon Abrahams, 2020) 1 out of 4 stars.

In Scary Movie star Jon Abrahams’ sophomore outing as director, Clover, two Irish brothers are forced to go on the run with a teenage girl by their side after a dealing with the local mob goes awry. Never mind the specifics of the plot, however; we’ve seen it all before. But here, it feels as though we may have seen it one too many times. With a script filled with unoriginal ideas, characters, and dialogue, Clover depends on its over-direction and mildly likable cast to scrape by.

Clover is one of those films that feels as though it makes a few too many choices. The constantly moving camera is one of the first signs of this. There are very few shots that aren’t encircling or following our protagonists from one place to another. Paired with an overly snappy and quick editing style, the movement loses all meaning and, instead, oftentimes becomes confusing and even nauseating. There are moments, however, when Clover attempts to establish its own semblance of a unique tone, particularly in its first few minutes, but they are left at just that: moments.

The performances are the only examples of consistency within this film. Across the board, the leading cast, which includes Abrahams himself, along with Mark Webber as his brother and Ron Perlman in a complete throwaway role, feel as though they are directionally on the same page. It is a shame, then, that the similarities between them are a tendency to either under- or overact every emotional moment. And whether the overarching issue with rhythm has to do with the line delivery of the actors themselves, the insufferably rapid editing, or the unrealistic, derivative script, it’s hard to tell.

Film poster: “Clover”

While the moments where Clover is meant to be funny are quite obvious, there are very few moments that feel as though they earn any audible reaction. The film is at its best when it allows itself to explore the more serious, growing bond between the brothers and the teenage girl. But this happens so rarely that any resolution for this unlikely relationship feels undeserved.

Clover is a perfect film if you are interested in a formulaic mob story that replaces emotional content with senseless and unamusing violence. It undoubtedly boasts short moments of charm in its over-the-top, but well-meaning, characters and fun, albeit slight, twists. Even these, however, are never able to surpass the threshold of what we already know.

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Hannah Tran is a film critic and filmmaker from Las Vegas, Nevada. She is currently studying film and English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to her studies, Hannah works as a film screener for the Las Vegas Film Festival and publishes an independent zine focused on highlighing Asian American filmmaking.

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