(director/writer: Lara Jean Gallagher; cinematographer: Andres Karu; editor: Alexander Morris; music: Katy Jarzebowski; cast: Otmara Marrero (Karen), Sydney Sweeney (Lana), Sonya Walger (D.), Will Brittain (Beau), Samuel Summer (Derrick). Will Cuddy (Matt), Ramsey (Ramsey); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Aimee Lynn Barneburg, Lara Jean Gallagher, Davis Priestley. Kim Bailey, Isabel Marden, Karina Ripper; Oscilloscope Laboratories; 2019)

“Fails to deliver a needed pay-off.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lara Jean Gallagher, the writer-director of this atmospheric coming-of-age erotic thriller, makes her feature film debut here a passable one–but one that can’t move into Hitchcock thriller turf as aspired. Its theme is about finding the right person to love and knowing when to let go of the wrong person. That aim is finely carried out, but what it lacks is doing it with some kind of passion as the use of the power of suggestion can only go so far.

The 20-something Karen (Otmara Marrero) is a confused and heart-broken LA resident, who after being dumped by her older and more sophisticated lover (a woman called D-Sonya Walger, who in the beginning of the film is not seen as she provides sweet whispers into her lover’s ears). Karen then drives to Oregon and breaks into her ex’s empty lake house in the woods. Once inside she reclaims the Lab pet both shared, but was taken from her during the split.

After a short time in the area, Karen meets the alluring naive local teen Lana (Sydney Sweeney). She is hanging around the lake, and Karen takes a romantic interest in her.

The girls hang out with the handyman Beau (Will Brittain), who makes a play for Lana but is rejected.

It’s well-acted by the leads (the former younger lover now gets to feel how it is to be the older and wiser lover), beautifully photographed by Andres Karu and dynamically scored by Katy Jarzebowski, but burdened with jarring dialogue and a story that goes nowhere.

The intense film moves along rather slowly (dwelling mostly on Karan’s former relationship) until it stops working when the anticipated sexual advances of the young lovers is never realized and the lesbian drama fails to deliver a needed pay-off (though it spares us from at least being a lesbian “porn cliche” flick).

The title comes about when Lana goes into a weird riff about clementines while playing with one, and then tossing the clementine into the lake uneaten. If that was meant to be erotic, it was not (which can also sum up how this film looks appealing but never goes further than that).

REVIEWED ON 5/11/2020  GRADE: B-