Moments of Clarity
Stev Elam’s Moments of Clarity wants to be many things, a risqué dark comedy, a coming of age road movie and a touching film about grief to name a few. Unfortunately, it plays like a collection of unrealized skits featuring a group of talented actors who all deserve better material. This is especially true for Kristin Wallace who co-wrote, produced and stars in this haphazard tale of a repressed daughter of an agoraphobic whose eyes are opened to the world at large.
Claire’s (Wallace) optimism falls somewhere between Happy-Go-Lucky’s Poppy and Forrest Gump’s titular character. Living with her agoraphobic mother (Saxon Trainor), and trying to make sense of the hormones governing her numerous sexual fantasies, she maintains an upbeat demeanor and overly simplistic view of life. When a quick jaunt around the neighbourhood results in the destruction of Danielle’s (Lyndsy Fonseca, Kick-Ass, Nikita), the local pastor’s daughter, vintage camera, Claire is determined to make things right. Through a series of events, a routine trip to the camera store turns into a road trip to a youth church jamboree; a journey in which the unlikely duo finds themselves encountering a whole hosts of quirky characters.
Whether Claire is simply clueless or falls somewhere on the special needs spectrum is never clarified, but the film is content to freely flirt with both options. This ultimately speaks to the main problem with the Elam’s film. At no point does it ever want to commit to a particular tone. Wallace’s script feels like a gathering of ideas that are never truly fleshed out in any cohesive way. One moment we are asked to laugh at the awkward situations an oblivious Claire finds herself in-take the convenience store clerk asking her to slowly suck on a pepperoni stick for example-and the next the film is trying to play to our emotional heartstrings via Danielle’s arc regarding her deceased mother.
Neither the comedic nor the emotional beats pay off in Moments of Clarity. Instead audiences merely watch from a distance as Wallace, Fonseca and the rest of the surprisingly strong collection of supporting actors, including Eric Roberts, Xander Berkeley, Bitty Schram, Mackenzie Astin and Marguerite Moreau, try their best to navigate characters that all seem to be existing in different films. Sure the cast seem to be having fun in their given roles, but that joy does not translate to our experience with the film. In fact, the only true clarity that we have, once Claire’s journey has reached its end and moral lessons are shared, is that we should have dropped out of this nonsensical road trip before the car even started.