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‘Clock’ has too much going on in a short amount of time

When I was growing up, I didn’t think I wanted kids. I never particularly liked babysitting and I wasn’t someone that kids were naturally drawn to, so it seemed to me that I wasn’t really cut out for motherhood.

After my first surprise pregnancy, everything changed. I love my kids and my stepkids, but I do sometimes wonder if things had gone differently if I could have been someone who was happy as a childless adult.

That thought experiment made me think that the new film on Hulu, “Clock” by writer and director Alexis Jacknow might be of interest.

Ella (Dianna Agron) is in her late 30s and loves being child-free. But as all of her friends enter motherhood and her husband Aidan (Jay Ali) indicates his desire for them to have a baby, she begins to wonder if her biological clock is broken. Her gynecologist suggests that Ella visit Dr. Elizabeth Simmons (Melora Hardin) who has developed a breakthrough technology that fixes a woman’s broken biological clock, making her desire motherhood. As she goes through the treatment, the question becomes, is trying to fix her clock actually making things better for Ella?

I feel like I am the target demographic for this movie. I’m a feminist and a woman who has complicated feelings about the stigma surrounding motherhood. Plus, I love a good dystopian horror movie. So by all metrics, this movie should be a slam dunk for me. But I’ve got to be honest, it fell kind of flat.

The performances were well done. I thought that Agron did an admirable job of conveying the conflicting emotions of someone who doesn’t want to give birth, but also wants to be considered “normal” by her peers. And Hardin is a powerhouse actor who is always the ultimate girl-boss.

There is some really upsetting imagery in this movie, and it was effective to varying degrees. But a lot of it felt like it didn’t connect to the story in any kind of meaningful way. Or if it was meant to be meaningful, it failed at that. There was a whole thing about eggs that could have been interesting and scary, but it was disconnected from everything else, so it never quite worked for me.

Ultimately, the real downfall of this movie was the script. The film is relatively short at just 92 minutes, but it tries to tackle anti-semitism, patriarchy, reproductive freedom, gender norms and medical malpractice. Because it tries to do so much, it felt like it didn’t do any of the themes justice.

It’s a movie about the biological impulse to bear children. If Jacknow had really focused on that and centered her imagery on that, I think it could have been genuinely frightening, not to mention being a piece of filmmaking that could have had a cultural impact. As it was presented, it felt like both a boring horror film and a tepid bit of social commentary.

ALISE CHAFFINS is a Morgantown writer who loves movies and sharing her opinions. She reviews a movie from a streaming service every Saturday and one newly in theaters every Sunday. Find more at MacGuffin or Meaning on Substack.