- Clemency has both a strong lead performance (veteran Alfre Woodard has never been better) and a color design in the mise-en-scene throughout from relative newcomer Chinonye Chukwu
- Chukwu and Woodard are on the same wavelength here with mood and pacing. The pauses let you soak up the detail in the visual design (a clear dedication to this specific greenish/blue tealish color) and nuance of the performance (especially in that sustained final close-up).
- Chukwu’s second feature, I have not seen 2012’s alaskaLand- her debut
- Woodard has been in archiveable films going back to the late 1970’s- but her best work (probably prior to this) is 1992’s Passion Fish from Sayles
- In the first few scenes Woodard is show in that distinct blue/green color- a suit, matching the same color in the background. She plays a prison warden who oversees death row (this film is slow medication on the moral implications and weight of capital punishment). The very next scene a woman is shown in a green sweater with a green painting on the wall that exactly matches that sweater. That specific color is used at least 100 times throughout the rest of the film including in odd places like the color of the fluid for the lethal injections
- Chukwu’s using of coloring and lighting (she turns a white into that color like David Fincher would) is a praiseworthy aesthetic dedication. Richard Schiff’s character’s tie, the bars on the cell of Aldis Hodge’s character’s cell. The color fits the mood. Kieslowski seems like another apt name to mention with the dedication to a specific hue.
- The bluesy bar that Woodward’s character hangs out in is sublime—I want to go to that bar. The sort of deep emerald leather booths, the perfect music.
- Woodard plays a fantastic drunk—her character Bernadine is usually so reserved, icy and composed- so when she lets loose it is very powerful.
- Long pauses—sort of Dreyer meets Refn—Woodard’s character drinks often, has insomnia—fitting
- The film is just under 2 hours—most directors would shoot the screenplay in 90 minutes or less- there just isn’t much on the page. I think there are two movies going on here- Woodard’s movie- about a warden. And then there’s Hodge’s movie—about the prisoner. The second one, about Hodge just doesn’t work (through no fault of his own- he’s a good actor). Clemency is substantially better if Chukwu drops that altogether and focuses on a tighter story/character with Woodard’s Bernadine.
- Great tracking shot at the 52-minute mark pulling back in the bar
- Casting- we have Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins) and Fresh Prince’s mom (Vernee Watson) if you grew up watching television in the 1990’s.
- The teal color is everywhere- the stripe of paint wrapped all around these characters, Woodard’s teal earrings, the band on Hodge’s arm
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2019
@Drake-How many films from 2019 do you have in the archives? seems like a lot.
@Malith- wow, good call out from you here. I have a whopping 62 from 2019. I’m actually over 30 now for 2020 as well.