Open with a happy, affluent American family gathering around the dinner table. Everyone is excitedly awaiting the collegiate return of daughter Maggie (Dana Melanie). Especially excited is the family matriarch, Sharon (Dina Meyer). A sudden silence sweeps through the room as Maggie enters the room and takes her place as guest of honor. With all eyes on Maggie, she prepares to make a brief speech. Before a word is uttered, Maggie shakes and collapses to the floor.
Payv Raz’s Clarity takes us on an emotional roller coaster of tragedy, lies and bad acting. It turns out; Maggie has a rare kidney disease. In immediate need of a kidney transplant, Maggie’s mother and three brothers are of no help. Maggie was kidnapped from Mexico as a young toddler. Sharon sends the family “muscle” Malcolm (Tony Denison) to Mexico to get Carmen (Nadine Velazquez) and persuade her to donate her kidney to the daughter she thought was lost for 20 years.
“How will adoptive mother convince the real mother to donate her kidney to her daughter?”
To make a sad story sadder, Clarity also tells the story of a young Carmen and how her daughter ended up in the hands of child smugglers, who sell Mexican children to rich Americans. When Maggie goes missing, Carmen pleads with the lead investigator Omar (Maurice Compte), but he knows the cause is hopeless. There’s an interesting scene of Carmen, Omar and a desperate game of Russian Roulette.
Melodrama is not an easy genre of movie to get right. Unfortunately, the acting in Clarity is not that good. Many of the supporting actors struggle to connect emotionally with the tragic dialogue required by the situation. Their lines feel memorized and unrehearsed and provide several cringe-worthy moments. Fortunately for us, the two female leads, featuring veteran actors Dina Meyers and Nadine Velasquez, thankfully give strong performances. Clearly, the film’s talent is stacked on the top.
“The ending is morally Twilight Zone-ish with a twinge of Hitchcock.”
The biggest problem with Clarity is the story’s pacing. It’s slow and predictable. By the time you hit the 20-minute mark, you already get the basic idea of the film—How will adoptive mother convince the real mother to donate her kidney to her daughter. It takes Clarity seventy-five minutes for the film to catch up with us.
On the positive side, writer/director Payv Raz gives Clarity an interesting ending. If you decide to give Clarity a chance, it’s worth the long, arduous wait. The ending is morally Twilight Zone-ish with a twinge of Hitchcock. Sadly, it was not strong enough to save the film.
Clarity (2017) Directed by Payv Raz. Written by Payv Raz. Starring Nadine Velazquez, Dina Meyer, Maurice Compte, Tony Denison, Dana Melanie.
2 out of 5