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Girl Clock

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Genre:

Feature Film - Comedy

DVD: Available Now
Format:DVD
Rating:MA 15+
Consumer Advice:

Strong sexual references

Run Time:
81 minutes
Director:

Jennifer Ussi

Cast:

Veronica Neave, Queenie van de Zandt, Catarina Hebbard, Jamie Dunn, Mirko Grillini, Adam Couper

Web Links:

Official web site

 

Now available to watch on beamafilm



 


Synopsis:

This heartwarming, zany coming-of-middle-age comedy follows the journey of three normal women who would happily enjoy their forties, if only Mother Nature wasn't so cruel!

Globe-trotting Christine wakes up one ordinary day to find that her biological clock has gone off with a vengeance. But for a commitment-phobe on the wrong side of 40, the road to motherhood is strewn with bedlam, calamity and smoked out eggs.

When she turns to her life long friends Margo and Mikki for support, she finds them equally embattled; Margo zealously guarding the door to her recently emptied nest, and Mikki frantically fighting her evil twin foes; Sagging and Drooping.

Collectively, however, the girls are a force to be reckoned with, so together they take on the might of Mother Nature with hilarious results.


Reviews


A successful romantic comedy - a first for Australian Cinema! 
Des Partridge, Courier Mail



Go see it for BIG laughs"
- Damien Anthony Rossi, Sunday Mail

"A charming romantic comedy with plenty of laughs and plenty of substance"
- Marie-Christine Sourris, Sunday Mail

"A black comedy that's not afraid to take a few chances"
- Matthew Toomey, Breakfast, ABC Brisbane

"An uproariously funny movie certain to tickle the funnybone of every girl over 30!"
- Editor, SE Advertiser/Wynnum Herald

"It's the funniest Australian movie that's been out for years!"
- Pete the Truckie on a phone-in to radio

FMV Inside Entertainment - Mirko Grillini
The Movie Proving that Mid 40s is Really the New 20s…
I keep saying it, at some point in your life you must take a gamble in order to follow a dream. We all do it, no matter what age, no matter what country, no matter what background, everyone has dreams. Before making the firm decision of embarking a journey through the rough seas of the film industry, Jennifer Ussi had a completely different career in mind...
Read the full review

Channel 7 News clip

4BC radio interview with Des Partridge

Urban Cinefile - Andrew L. Urban
Timely, relevant and entertaining, Girl Clock! explores the choices a single woman faces when she’s left it a bit too long to respond to the demands of her biological clock. Christine (Veronica Neave) doesn’t even have a suitable partner, so she goes sperm shopping; she tries a variety of ways to find a male who will mate without staying around. She imagines this will be easy, since all men ever want is a wham, bam, thank you ma’am . . . isn’t it? She discovers otherwise.
 
The establishment of the story elements takes us into related territories, including the other end of parenting, the part when the children are old enough to leave, as in the case of Margo (Queenie van de Zandt) who is enjoying newfound closeness with hubby Keith (Jamie Dunn, amusing) reluctant to let her kids back in the house. This is done with humour and love so it doesn’t jar – but it does ring true.
 
Christine’s other good friend Mikki (Catarina Hebbard) is having a different battle: her adversary is encroaching middle age, with its loss of sexual identity. Indeed, all identity. She feels invisible, and this despite heroic attempts by her loving man Tom (Co-writer Adam Couper) to assure her that she is still the most desirable woman in his world.
 
The film becomes something of an adventure movie as Christine follows every path to pregnancy, including the IVF clinic, where she meets the single, charming and talented violin player she spotted some days earlier at a local shop, Paolo (Mirko Grillini, excellent).
 
It’s from here that the film takes unexpected turns, saving us from a Hollywood template. The twists are achingly funny because they’re grounded in reality – except perhaps for one brave scene that sets up the payoff.  Jennifer Ussi’s direction is sure footed and mostly astute and credible, the technicals are solid, while the original score and songs add to the accessibility of the film. It’s a life affirming comedy, and to its credit it’s based on some serious subjects, generating a complexity of emotional responses.
 
Veronica Neave is a standout as Christine, totally credible and likeable, making her natural drive to motherhood not so much selfish as fulfilling. Her conundrum is universally recognised in the West and is a valid subject for exploration, and the film will be embraced by women over 30; their menfolk will no doubt find it a useful insight into how and why women feel so much more threatened about getting older than men do.

Screen Fanatic - David O'Connell
It would be doing director Jennifer Ussi’s feature debut Girl Clock! (2010) a grave disservice to label it as a 'chick flick' - that off-putting, all-encompassing term almost demeaningly assigned to filmic frivolities peopled by members of the fairer sex, and filled with fluffy, light centres. Girl Clock! too may primarily focus on three females, but it does so with a very contemporary and humourous riff on those sensitive issues confronting women as they get their first glimpse at the fast-approaching realities of middle age and beyond.

Girl Clock! is that rare bird, a superb amalgam of both funny and painfully real vignettes, its most incisive insights ones that Ussi never allows to be glossed over or traded in for the sake of obvious laughs or cheap contrivances.

The film's central figure is globe-trotting photographer Christine (Veronica Neave) who, nearing the wrong side of forty, is unable to dissuade an intensifying maternal instinct from rearing its head. She’s been in a relationship for a couple of months with control freak Bob (Sean Dennehy), but her heart isn’t in it at all. Laying herself bare, she confesses to her two best friends, Margo (Queenie van de Zandt) and Mikki (Caterina Hebbard), that it’s not a relationship that interests her, only a longing for motherhood. But won't she need the 'services' of a man at some point to accomplish this feat? Time she fears is running out, her biological clock ticking down to its final phase, beyond which she spies a barren, lonely, ever-encroaching place.

Margo has been through all that commotion, with two teenage children that she’s desperate to turn away to independent lives of their own so that she and husband Keith (Jamie Dunn) can finally enjoy their rich reward. Mikki is in a stable relationship with a man who adores her, Tom (co-screenwriter Adam Couper), but is enduring a debilitating identity crisis of her own. Hitting the wrong side of forty has triggered a traumatic upheaval requiring subtle adjustments that seem beyond her. Now, helpless to prevent a cloak of invisibility from swallowing her and exploiting her insecurities, she's beginning to doubt her worth and the contribution she can make to society.

The screenplay by Ussi and Couper manages to strike a perfect balance, extracting consistently laugh-out-loud moments from everyday scenarios without ever trivialising them for the sake of it. The film is equally successful in addressing the moments of poignant introspection that cause consternation for Christine and Mikki in particular. These isolated moments are skillfully interwoven into Girl Clock's fluid structure and have the distinctive ring of authenticity about them.

Though the cast of experienced actors is uniformly great, it’s the vibrant, uninhibited Neave in the central role of Christine who shines brightest. Unafraid to expose her frailties, her innate fears to the light of day, Christine is afforded the most interesting arc and becomes the film’s sympathetic heart and soul. Yet Ussi and Couper’s brisk screenplay somehow finds space to surround her with a host of fully-fleshed supporting players, each becoming vital to the film’s success.

Though a couple of pivotal moments feel unnaturally induced to maintain the narrative’s momentum, Girl Clock! is still an overwhelmingly successful celebration of the ties of friendship and the ability to overcome our darkest fears - always with a smile. Visually the film defies the limitations of its low budget to provide a modest, but highly cinematic sheen, whilst the eclectic score of French-born composer Loïc Valmy is another vital contribution, dipping in and out of styles to capture the film’s numerous, deftly-modulated tones, whether serious drama or the sometimes screwy comedy that is never far away.

In recent times the local industry has been accused of pandering to lost causes and assailing audiences with films of an unrelentingly grim nature. Girl Clock! then is the perfect antidote for assuaging this outpouring of apparently malignant, depressive subject matter. The same chorus of dissenters and disapproving voices said to be abandoning local products would surely be delirious with joy to see something as refreshing, relevant, and downright entertaining as Girl Clock! at their local multiplex.

UrbanCinefile - Louise Keller
Friendship, fertility and turning 40 are the themes of this fresh and funny, uplifting comedy that is perfect for that Girls' Night Out. The feature debut of writer director Jennifer Ussi, the film is a modest and unabashed crowd pleaser that follows the trials and tribulations of a forty-something single woman with obsessions. The issues of marriage, parenting and partners may not be new, but Ussi brings a different slant and a few hilarious surprises as we identify with the characters of this likeable film that looks at life, love and the impact of the biological clock.
 
From the start, when we meet Christine, Margo and Mikki reclining in crimson robes, wineglasses at hand, face masks set and pedicured toes wiggling, we know these girls are close and share their innermost secrets. Not that their situations are identical; far from it. Catarina Hebbard’s Mikki feels as though she is invisible, as she obsesses about wrinkles, sagging flesh and her insecurity about ageing, despite her live-in boyfriend whose philosophy mirrors the sentiments in Billy Joel’s song ‘Just the Way You Are’. Queenie van de Zandt’s free-spirited Margo has a busy life filled with spice and playful fun; she is obsessed about getting the teenage kids out of the house. But the spotlight turns on Veronica Neave’s Christine, whose successful career as a photographer has morphed into an obsession about falling pregnant.
 
We can forgive some of the slight performances of smaller roles and there are some predictable set ups as Christine’s obsession for fertility takes flight; in her quest for fitness, giving up smoking and getting lots of sex. Those scenes when she explores her options for falling pregnant border on the farcical but things hot up considerably when violin-playing, sexy, charming life-saving Paolo (Mirko Grillini, charismatic) comes onto the scene. That’s when the film takes the unexpected fork in the road and soars. Be prepared to laugh till it hurts at this point.
 
Performances by the three central women are all terrific; I especially warmed to van de Zandt’s Margo (that scene when she and hubby are making out when teenage son arrives home is especially memorable). Neave excels as Christine whose pathway to motherhood treads a fine line between desperation and pragmatism. Loic Valmy’s outstanding music score gives the film a real lift and as the clock finishes its revolution, there’s a nicely subtle conclusion that adds irony to the mix.

Australian Catholic Film Office 
and SIGNIS (The World Catholic Association for Communication) - Peter Malone
Many audiences are going to enjoy this film.  It is a modestly budgeted film from Queensland with a fine cast who are probably not so well known outside Brisbane (and that is a pity).  It is a film from suburbia with people you might know but not know so well.
 
Not that the plot is without its problems for audiences to think about, some complex issues of relationships, sexuality and fertility.  Not all audiences are going to necessarily agree with some of the attitudes and behaviour.  But that is what drama is all about.  (An American archbishop once said that he could not write a pastoral letter to the people of  his diocese on a bioethical issue without consulting widely and listening to the experiences of people with a range of viewpoints.  I watched this film – on principally women’s issues – in this vein.)
 
Girl Clock (probably more accurately, Middle Aged Woman’s Clock because the clock for pregnancy seems to be ticking faster and louder for the central character, Christine (Veronica Neave)).  She is a career woman, a photographer, conscious of the approach of menopause but who feels an overwhelming compulsion to conceive a child.  She has no partner.  Much of her dilemma throughout the film is how to find one when she does not want and can’t commit to a permanent, let alone temporary, relationship.  (Whether it is the writing or the skill of  Veronica Neave or both, Christine does give the impression that, despite what she says, deep down she does want some lasting relationship.)
 
There are some funny episodes in her search for a partner which leads her to an ex-lover (who does not want to be used), a dating site with the expected group of eccentrics, to IVF.  The finale is not what the audience is expecting and there is a scene which may/will have us thinking twice – to which another reviewer reminded us of deceased people’s wish to be organ donors and the question of where the limits are.
 
But, the film is not just about Christine and her ticking biological clock.  She has two best friends, much her own age, and we share something of their stories.  Mikki (Caterina Hebbard) is a researcher, aged an unwilling 42, whose obsession is her appearance and the feeling that people look through her.  There is fine scene where her partner, wordlessly and sensitively, makes a gesture that affirms her as a person, a woman, and enables her to break through the obsession. (The partner, Tom, is played by Adam Couper who co-wrote the screenplay.)
 
And then there are Margot and Keith who have two adult children.  They are the rock of the film, the reassurance to those who cannot commit that years of a happy, contented, marriage are more than possible.  Queenie van de Zandt is a wonderful earth mother with a wry sense of humour.  Jamie Dunn’s Keith is balding and certainly not thin, a wonderful, common-sensed father with a wryer sense of humour.
 
While the film is one of female sensibilities (co-written with a man to ensure no male-bashing, produced and directed by a woman who has drawn on her own life experiences), most of the male characters in the film are quite sympathetic.
 
There are lots of funny moments, lots of sad moments (and a wonderful cameo by Carol Burns as a lonely old woman whose dog Christine has accidentally run over).
 
The issues are real, especially for women, and an alert for male viewers.  As has been said, not everyone will agree with the women’s decisions and the consequences but, because the film is human and humane, their actions ask for humane consideration.


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