Ponder Picks: Clerks

Kevin Smith    Clerks: 1994

Kevin Smith

Clerks: 1994

In the filming of his comedy, Clerks, Kevin Smith approaches real-life problems with his instinctual and witty dialog. In 1994 Clerks proved its writer, producer, and director, Kevin Smith, to be quite talented.  In an effort to film his movie, Smith conjured up about $27,500. Although that's costly, that's nothing in the movie business. Distribution by the IFFM (Independent feature Film Market) became the result of Clerks'  hilarious and relevant dialog. This was Smith’s first movie preceding his decision to drop out of film school with an attendance of only four months. Clerks birthed Smith’s career and led him to write screen-plays for other popular films like Mall Rats, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Smith went on a whim with his first film, but his excellent screenplay promised him a future that no film- maker could pass up.


Even more noticeable than the film’s black and white footage are its raw and realistic conversations. Smith’s writing abilities are compatible with his directing skills in the making of his first movie. The main character, Dante (Actor, Brian O'Halloran), plays the role of a clerk at a local convenient store. Dante receives an unexpected call early in the morning from his boss, requesting that he come in for work. Given no choice, Dante unwillingly goes. What I love about this movie is that it all takes place over the course of one day. This goes well with the interesting conversations Dante has with his good friend, Randal (Jeff Anderson), and his girlfriend, Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti). Randal works in the video store next door to Dante's work- place, but he seems to be in the convenient store more than his own job. As with many independent films, Clerks, shares the convention of a dialog based script. If done this well, the development of characters becomes the most interesting aspect of the film.


Randal’s actions characterize him as someone who doesn’t care much for the “responsibilities” of his store (life). Randal’s compulsion to piss- off every customer that comes through the door contrasts from Dante’s tendencies of kindness and forgiveness. Dante’s weaknesses are continuously exposed by his ex- girlfriend, current girlfriend, and his boss. Smith leaves his film in an open- ended fashion, leaving you to put together the pieces yourself. The relationship of Dante and Randal in Clerks is most crucial in understanding the messages Smith conveys. Randal’s reflections on their current positions in life arise awareness in the eyes of Dante. In a way, Randal is everything that Dante strives to be.