Clockwatchers (1997)

Poster for the film, Clockwatchers (1997).

“Isn’t anyone going to say anything? Isn’t someone going to speak up for me?”

As someone who has worked numerous temp jobs, I love how this film captures so many little truths about the interpersonal dynamics of temporary coworker relationships and the disposable way we treat people in today’s corporate culture. The film is centered on the performance of Toni Collette, who portrays a young anti-career woman with social anxiety, who bonds with three other hapless temps at a generic financial services firm, and becomes the unintentional grounding force of the group. Parker Posey, who was the 90’s indie-film counterpoint to Winona Ryder, has the best lines in the film, including, “How can you fire me? You don’t even know my name!” There are also some unexpectedly, heart-achingly beautiful scenes in the film, such as when Toni Collette’s character is sitting at home by herself, holding an open journal, the blank pages serving as a canvas (and metaphor) for the light filtering through the curtains, giving the impression of a film projection. The film, which came out just before the turn of the millennium, is prescient in its depiction of the encroaching corporate surveillance of post 9/11 America. The film is also remarkable in making the depiction of its protagonists’ extremely mundane lives intensely engrossing. I must have re-watched this film at least twenty times over many years, and I never get tired of it. The extremely talented but extremely underrated writer and director of the film, Jill Sprecher, unfortunately made only one other film before seeming to disappear from the industry.

Ebert: 3.5/4
My rating: 10/10

Clockwatchers is currently streaming for free on Amazon Prime.