Generation X falls into the mold. The back cover blurb of this video describes it as a "smart and wry Working Girl for a postmodern world"--but let's be clear. Actually, sisters Jill and Karen Sprecher have cowritten (and ... more »Jill Sprecher directed) a modernist dark comedy about working Generation Xers. Were it truly postmodern, it would not work so well--instead, the Sprechers have given us dark but funny commentary on working life as a temp. The clean, straight lines of cinematographer Jim Denault's aesthetic bolster the woman-against-the-world motif of the meaningless pursuit of full-time employment. Why four intelligent, capable women languish in perpetual boredom looking for this unfulfilling nirvana is not at issue, but it is this unquestioned conformity to tradition that frustrates the audience while letting us laugh at what is and is not happening. Toni Collette's (Muriel's Wedding) portrayal of Iris is sharp: a shy, mousy, somewhat insecure twentysomething provides interior monologue, both through her voice-over commentary and the notebook diary she religiously keeps, and evolves over a year of temping at a credit company--but it is difficult to explain what she evolves into. She gains an understanding of friendship and betrayal, but at the cost of not even the least sentimentality. She asserts her personal desires for career that are in conflict with those of the working world and her father, but without reaching true fulfillment. She outgrows her don't-notice-me haircut to become an assertive, self-confident person, yet suffers intensely and silently when a handsome coworker doesn't recognize her on the street. Strong performances from both Parker Posey and Lisa Kudrow (who since Friends and the witty Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion seems to be suffering increasingly from stereotyping) give Collette a solid surface off of which she bounces her quiet, psychological role to great satisfaction. --Erik Macki« less
"This is a mostly overlooked and underrated portrayal of the world of office temps. The beauty of this film is that, rather than hitting us with obvious plot devices, it slowly builds an atmosphere of oppression and monotony. The nameless company that employs and exploits the temps slowly chips away at the dreams, hopes and self-esteem of the characters. They are caught in an anonymous, meaningless life where the silliest of rules are ruthlessly enforced by petty tyrants. What's refreshing about Clockwatchers is the way it exposes the alienation of modern corporate life without resorting to the usual movie cliches. There is no sex, violence or even law suits here. It is seemingly trivial events, like the theft of small personal objects, that builds tension. There is also humor, the kind that fans of Dilbert will appreciate, as when a fired worker objects, "you can't fire me, you don't even know my name!" There is an existentialist feeling to the film, most notably verbalized by Parker Posey (a great addition to any independent film), who says something like, "I don't think anyone cares if I even exist." Clockwatchers is, I think, more than a movie about office temps. It's a commentary on our whole bureaucratic, atomized society. Along with Safe, another of my favorite films of the last decade (I'll proably review that one soon), Clockwatchers is a truly significant film about the modern world."
A. Hukal | Oceanside, CA USA | 05/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Reading the other reviews here, I felt compelled to submit my own. Clockwatchers is one of my favorite movies of 1998, perfectly capturing the aimlessness and degradation of being a temporary worker. I can't figure out the current trend of completely inaccurate movie synopses on video boxes (Muriel's Wedding, another Toni Collette favorite, is definitely not the madcap adventure the box would have you believe)... True, there are some truly great comic elements here, but THIS MOVIE IS NOT A COMEDY. i guess some of the other people expected a laff riot--this is definitely not it. Toni Collete's understated performance as sweet-but-shy iris is perfect. Parker Posey is hilarious as usual, playing the bitchy temp veteran. This movie is subtle, complex, well-developed, there is tons of foreshadowing and symbolism, the muzak-y score is perfect... again, this is definitely not a comedy, but it is one of the best and most thoughtful movies I've seen in some time."
Funny, yet can hit a little close to home
Strange East Bay Girl | East of San Fran | 01/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As someone who has been both a "perm" and a "temp," I find much in "Clockwatchers" to be completely truthful. Where "Office Space" (a movie I also loved) offered a cathartic revenge fantasy, "Clockwatchers" dares to tell it like it is -- that dead-end jobs really have no way out or up -- even if it is dreary and depressing.There is humor, but rather than the cartoonish humor of "Office Space," "Clockwatchers" shows the ridiculous in little everyday workplace happenings: playing with the adjustment mechanisms on your chair, popping sheets of bubble wrap, or using Liquid Paper as nail polish.The weird combination of emotions that these temps go through -- hopelessness and ambition, despair and frivolity, anger mixed with s**t-eating grins -- are extremely realistic and something that those in a similar work situation can probably easily relate to. The performances are outstanding, especially Toni Collette and Parker Posey.Highly recommended!"
Telling The Truth
C. Ebeling | PA USA | 11/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The editorial reviewer infers that it might be unlikely that "intelligent, capable women languish" in boring, demeaning office temp work. Apparently, the editorial reviewer has led an advantaged life some place where the economy has always boomed, where everyone has always known what they wanted and gotten it, where business culture is democratic and kind. Clockwatchers, for all its interesting European styling, has pinned down two realities most realistically: life in a business office and what life is like when you are waiting for it to become something, anything. Toni Collette's performance is incredible as is that of the rest of the cast. Their characters are recognizable but not stereotypes. The comedy is gentle, the sound and settings are stark, but the sting of being so invisible you don't even rate the bottom of the totem pole is like a bright flare. I gave this only four stars because some might think it drags (but that is part of its point), and others will never appreciate the fact that yes, for many intelligent women, this is a passage of life. For those who have been stuck in it, it is a vindication, a soft anthem."
True to life
Pat McCurry | Wilton, NH United States | 03/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You don't need to be an office temp to relate with Clockwatchers. Anyone who has ever worked will understand it. I can relate to everything Iris (Colette) goes through in the film. When someone starts a job, it begins as fun. Then, something comes along to turn it into just another job. That's what makes Clockwatchers a spot on interpretation of our lives. The performances are also great: Colette as the shy one; Kudrow as the man wanting, actress; Posey as the fiesty, outspoken one; and Ubach as a pampered, unknowing bride-to-be. I'm usually not a fan of independant films, but once in a while, one comes along to grab my attention and never let's go until the very end. This one did that. This movie also makes it's point without using excessive language, violence, or sex. After the last indy film I watched (Happiness), I needed a cleansing. This was a nice change of pace. lately, people have been writing discouraging remarks about this film. OK, then, why don't you rent some box office moneymaker for the 10,000th time? That's really original."