Review by James Lindorf
Jackie (Mark Webber) and Mickey (Jon Abrahams) were almost free of local mob boss Tony Davolo (Chazz Palminteri). However, another of Jackie’s “sure things” has fallen through, and to save their family’s bar, and their lives, they must resort to extreme measures to pay back their debt. Their situation gets more complicated when they are forced to take a tough-as-nails teenage girl, Clover (Nicole Elizabeth Berger), on the run from hitmen and hitwomen. The brother’s troubles are just beginning, and Clover may not be everything she seems in this gory, dark comedy. “Clover” was directed by costar Jon Abrahams and written by Michael Testone. “Clover” is the second movie they’ve done together after they debuted together with 2018’s All at Once. “Clover” was supposed to be released into theaters on April 3rd, but with the current environment has moved to a purely digital release and is available through VOD services.
“Clover” highlights a lot of good things about Abrahams as a director. The film feels very consistent and of one artist even though it fails to push the crime thriller genre forward in a meaningful way. Abrahams has over 20 years of experience as an actor, and it helps him relate to the cast and get the performance he wants out of them. He is highly successful, with almost everyone on screen. Palminteri is excellent as the vicious mob boss, and so is Jake Weber as paranoid Uncle Terry.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Ron Perlman. From “Hellboy” to “Sons of Anarchy,” Perlman is known for his humor and intimidating presence, and both of those elements are 100% absent from “Clover.” He was only on set for a day or two at most, which shows, and his character added nothing to the film. Nicole Elizabeth Berger and Erika Christensen, who were both in “All at Once” with Abrahams, bring energy even if they don’t give consistently strong performances.
The film’s wink link is its script. Some of the dialogue is off, and the story is rudimentary with a twist at the end to try and help it stand out. The performers certainly give it their all, with Webber and Abrahams’ comedic chemistry, and Christensen and Julia Jones as a pair of quirky pizza obsessed killers for hire adding flair to the film. It appears that Testone wants to be the next Tarantino or Guy Ritchie, who are both known for their quirky, dialogue-heavy crime stories. He may get there one day, but for the time being, the direction and cast are outpacing his script.
“Clover” is at times brutal, and laugh out loud funny at others, but a script overwhelmed with ideas and a lack of execution prevents it from blossoming.
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