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Clutter: Film Review

Clutter Key Art - H 2013

The Bottom Line

Domestic drama suffers from uneven cast.

Venue

Seattle International Film Festival

Cast

Joshua Leonard, Carol Kane, Natasha Lyonne, Halley Feiffer, Maria Dizzia, Daniel London, Dan Hedaya

Director

Diane Crespo

Carol Kane plays a woman whose pack-rat lifestyle is a great burden for her family.

SEATTLE — Emotional baggage is literal in Diane Crespo's Clutter, a tale of domestic dysfunction set in a home stuffed to the rafters with bric-a-brac and things that might, but really won't, come in handy some day. An affecting dramatic turn by Carol Kane, playing the hoarder matriarch in question, is buried under the film's less credible elements, leaving little for fest auds to embrace.

Kane's Linda did much of life's child-rearing solo, having scared off her husband while the kids were young. Today all three siblings are deeply scarred, though only one of the characters -- Joshua Leonard's Charlie -- is depicted here with enough depth to be sympathetic: While Charlie struggles with issues of emotional committment and serves as Mom's liaison to the world of the sane, the film draws sisters Lisa and Penny as thin damaged-goods caricatures (played with maximum affectation by Natasha Lyonne and Halley Feiffer).

When Linda's house is condemned, she is secretly moved into a model home whose interiors were "staged" by Penny. Before you can find an episode of Hoarders on your DVR, she's working to fill empty space in her new home as well. As Charlie and his sisters clear out the garbage in their childhood home, he's also working on a memoir-doc that traces all his problems back to the day Dad left without saying goodbye.

Leonard finds enough believable sadness in his role to make the script's on-the-nose metaphors more poignant than they may deserve to be, but little else in the film is up to the level of Kane's committed, unshowy performance. Production and costume design further a stylized atmosphere that makes the drama difficult to take seriously.

Production Company: Table Ten Films

Cast: Joshua Leonard, Carol Kane, Natasha Lyonne, Halley Feiffer, Maria Dizzia, Daniel London, Dan Hedaya

Director: Diane Crespo

Screenwriter: Paul Marcarelli

Producers: Paul Marcarelli, Molly Pearson

Executive producers: Ward Sparacio, Gregory Rae

Director of photography: Dan Hersey

Production designer: Chris Trujillo

Music: William Brittelle

Costume designer: Beth Anne Kelleher

Editor: Erin Greenwell

No rating, 77 minutes