Clutter (NR)

December 31st, 1969
By Michael Nordine
There's a dinner scene in Clutter that rivals the filial cruelty and dysfunction of August: Osage County. A cockroach crawls out of a salad prepared by a hoarder, an eyepatch-clad Natasha Lyonne squishes it when no one else will, and old tensions bubble to the surface. The question of why, how, and when we reach our breaking points with those closest to us is central to Diane Crespo's film, as is the difficulty and necessity of reconciling in the aftermath.

Charlie (Joshua Leonard), an aspiring filmmaker whose absentee father was a garbage man and whose unstable mother (Carol Kane) is responsible for the cockroach salad, is tasked with holding his family together. He's frequently scorned for admitting what his mother and sisters can't: that their father is never coming back and their mother needs serious help. The details of this family's slow unraveling are so specific they almost feel autobiographical, and as a result occasionally insular; we're thrust into their problems like a therapist mid-session.

We get a glimpse of who these people are and what makes them tick, but never know them in a way that helps us truly understand them or become especially invested in finding out what became of them.