Stuck in the Czech Republic as a result of a travel ban announced after the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, I watch one random film a day until the travel ban is lifted to keep some of my sanity intact.
As far as ’90s American independent films go, this one has always ranked pretty high in my books. Clerks is rightly considered a cult classic and with time, it has aged well considering, particularly because of its grit and lack of concern for the politically correct.
The film, quite simply, follows a day in the life of a 22-year-old convenience store clerk named Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and his colleague Randal (Jeff Anderson). Over the course of the day, many things occur but throughout its duration, Clerks is neither hindered by clearcut narrative conventions while looking far more cohesive than a mere sketch comedy.
At heart, Kevin Smith’s feature directorial debut is all about the laughs and the filmmaker itself has always downplayed highbrow readings of the movie. Yet, it is hard to escape the fact that what truly sets it apart from similar is that it is a genuine representation of Generation Xers, down to the seemingly effortless cool of the black and white cinematography.
Having seen a fair share of American independent movies – even those made at around this time, which for many reasons marked a high-point in American independent filmmaking – I can honestly say that the thing that often brings the quality of the film down is the acting. O’Halloran and Anderson’s performances, as such, are worthy of praise and are able to sustain the spotlight that the minimalistic camerawork shines on them.
Famously, the film marked the debut of Jay and Silent Bob (played by Jason Mewes and Smith respectively), a pair of lovable stoners that hang out the Quick Stop compound. They head a cast of characters that populate Clerks and enrich this gloriously explicit yet incredibly charming film in a memorable way.
CLERKS | Director – Kevin Smith | Writer – Kevin Smith | Starring – Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith | USA | 1994