Clock, the debut feature film from Alexis Jacknow, is a compelling exploration of the societal pressures faced by women with regards to procreation. The film follows the story of Ella Patel, a successful 37-year-old designer, who is constantly pressured by her family and friends to have children. Although Ella is content with her childless lifestyle, she begins to question her own choices after yet another argument with her father about the need to continue the family bloodline and her husband expressing his desire to have children.
This questioning leads Ella to an experimental clinic, led by the subtly menacing Dr. Elizabeth Simmons, that claims to be able to “fix” her biological clock. Here, Ella undergoes a ten-day stay of unknown medications, sensory deprivation tanks, and unnerving hallucinations, as well as the insertion of a strange device that promises to “cure” her of her aversion to motherhood.
While the film’s primary focus is on the societal pressures surrounding procreation, it also incorporates elements of horror, with vivid and shocking imagery throughout. This combination of genres allows the film to explore the psychological horror that arises when one is forced to conform to societal expectations. Furthermore, the film also touches on the concept of duty among Jewish people to procreate, post-Holocaust, and the impact of these historical events on present-day reproductive choices.
The performances of Dianna Agron as Ella and Melora Hardin as Dr. Simmons are both exceptional, with Agron’s portrayal of Ella capturing the frustration and resentment of a woman constantly bombarded with invasive questions about her reproductive choices. Hardin’s depiction of Dr. Simmons is equally impressive, striking a balance between synthetic warmth and suspicion, which makes her character all the more unnerving.
Despite some narrative threads that are left unresolved, Clock remains a powerful and much-needed piece of cinema, highlighting the importance of individual choice when it comes to matters of procreation. The film’s exploration of the pressure to conform to societal norms and expectations, and the psychological horror that comes with it, will surely resonate with many women.
Ultimately, Clock serves as a poignant reminder that reproductive choices are deeply personal, and that society’s expectations should not dictate them. Through its depiction of one woman’s struggle to maintain autonomy in the face of societal pressure, Clock delivers a thought-provoking and haunting message that is sure to leave a lasting impact on its audience.
Clock is currently streaming on Hulu in the US and on Disney Plus elsewhere around the world from today.