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All Critics (16)
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Writer-director Bridey Elliott's debut feature has more wit and ingenuity than is suggested by its familiar logline - and in fact this playful, intelligent film is a genuine original.
Clara's Ghost more often feels directionless and tedious.
In the end, there's not enough of distinction or substance to make this absurdist family comedy with a haunted-house angle feel like more than a short's worth of ideas stretched too thin.
Infrequent actress Paula Niedert Elliott delights in the titular role with a quirky, sympathetic performance that gradually reveals the extent of Clara's psychological wounds.
Messy and abrasive, it's a difficult film to get through, but the comedy is solid and the underlying themes are well realized.
The performances are strong across the board and there's a novelty to seeing the entire Elliott family act together, but too often the movie is so inward-looking and self-conscious to work as either comedy or drama.
In Elliott's provocative debut, it's the things that aren't tangible that become the most real and although one might check out the film expecting a cringe comedy, it's the unabashed love behind "Clara's Ghost" can be felt deeply.
The vast majority of the run time is spent in the company of unlikeable characters who are neither endearing, nor funny, even if the film treats them as if they are. This is not enjoyable at all.
None of the scenes have any urgency and from shot-to-shot it's rarely clear what the end goal of the scene is.
Bridey [Elliot] is clearly a studied filmmaker. She doesn't just understand her father's signature comedy formula that so deftly combines pathos and lowbrow humor. Her brand of comedy is doused with the dark paranoia of a Roman Polanski film.
Sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, always honest.
Clara's Ghost is that rare movie that works despite the fact that its only grounded and likable character is a pot dealer.
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