Clover (2020) | VOD
Clover, for lack of a better word, is lopsided. There's a lot to love within Clover, but the numerous poor elements drag those significant others down. The film suffers from a less than desirable second act, a slew of lackluster performances, and the overall plotline. These elements try their hardest to drown out the positives, and by the time the credits roll, you can't help but feel ultimately mixed about the entire experience.
After watching Clover I am fairly confident that Abrahams will find new life as a director, as he has a lot to show here, with his strongest attribute being his action scenes. Clover's third act displays perfectly what this director has to offer, turning the insanity level to eleven and letting the film lose some of its serious undertones for an incredibly fun final showdown. The worst part about the film's direction is mutually the sudden cuts between scenes (that should be shown in full) and the transitions chosen between scenes used to add a little unnecessary flair. There's certainly a spark here, it's just not ignited to its fullest potential, and that is unsatisfying to say when the third act is just so bloody fun.
Clover's plot follows two brothers, Jackie (Mark Webber) and Mickey (Jon Abrahams), that run into trouble with a past-due loan with a mob boss. To pay the money off they must complete a dangerous task that unfortunately can't go their way. As expected, the mission goes awry and the pair's lives start to quickly spiral downward. This plot is simple, easy to comprehend, and what the film should have been all along, however adding in all the incoherent plot choices that muddle the easy going plot and you're left with an ultimately mixed bag. The script feels unpolished, almost like a first draft; there's plenty of subplots that connect near the end but feel as though they were rushed to conclude, leaving a majority of the film undesirable. To be perfectly honest, if you were to combine all the scenes that were the most intriguing and removed all the other nonsense, you'd be left with a fantastic short film.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Clover is about as exact as you can come when claiming a cast is a mixed bag of talent and characterization. Never would I point out the actors that I found lesser than the rest, however I will name the few that kept me enticed in the film's events the entire way through (or at least while they were on screen). One of the best aspects of the film is the two main characters, Mickey (Jon Abrahams) and Jackie (Mark Webber) so we obviously see quite a bit of them throughout the film and somehow it's still never enough. The pair's chemistry is perfect, and to have a film center more on them and less on subplots would have made a greater film in the end. Apart from them, the mob boss: Tony (Chazz Palminterri) and the duo's crazy family friend both have such magnetic energy to their performances that you couldn't pull your attention from them if you tried. Beyond those few, the rest of the cast certainly never held my captivation quite as well – moving between mediocre acting and characterization. Cautiously I must admit that the fantastic performances more than make up for the meandering performances spread throughout but that is purely a personal admission.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
"... a great movie hidden within and it lies with the two leads..."
Visually speaking, the film feels incredibly indie; there are some great shots throughout, but as far as the aesthetic the film is giving off, it is just pure independent cinema. It's the transitions near the start of the film that come to mind when going about my thoughts on the visuals within Clover, they were just so… distracting. Without reason the film would use a "comic book" style frame to transition between the three main characters walking down a street, which didn't make sense in the moment and throughout these types of transitions continue to bring about some distracting imagery. Now violence wise, the visuals are absolutely wonderful; a scene with a bowling pin comes immediately to mind. If the plot would have kept it more simple and less dynamic, and expanded upon the violence that we already have, Clover could have been an incredibly fun watch, no doubt in my head.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Neither impressed, nor particularly unimpressed. The score does it's job here and helps inject motivation to some rather lacking scenes throughout, however Mathieu Schreyer's score is largely forgettable. The sound design here is adequate as it can encompass a semi-active city and manages to make the impact of bullets, along with other weaponry attacks pack slightly more of a punch than the usual "copy & paste" gunshot noises poised in lower budget films.
I went into Clover with almost zero expectations and left semi-satisfied. Jon Abrahams direction was strong, minus a few issues throughout, but his performance alongside Mark Webber was even stronger. There's so much you could ask this film to be, but what we got was a convoluted plot where character development beyond the two leads seems pretty non-essential to this screenwriter. Take away some subplots, some unnecessary side characters, and most of all the girl Clover, and you have a sustainable film. There's a great movie hidden within and it lies with the two leads - it's just all the rest that needs tweaked and better yet forgotten.