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Clockwatchers

Release date: June 12, 1997
Directed by: Jill Sprecher
Written by: Jill Sprecher, Karen Sprecher
Produced by: Gina Resnick
Running time: 96 minutes

Iris (Toni Collette), a young wallflower with big dreams, begins her first day as a temp for the nondescript Global Credit Association. During her first day on the job, is befriended by the flouncing, rebellious Margaret (Parker Posey), the wanna-be actress Paula (Lisa Kudrow) and the obsessive-compulsive Jane (Alanna Ubach). The four become a gossipy clique of lunchtime companions and confidantes. Their friendship is tested after a petty thievery in which suspicion falls on the four friends. Before the mystery is solved, the women have been interrogated and set against one another.

Cast & Characters

Toni Collette (Iris Chapman), Parker Posey (Margaret Burre), Lisa Kudrow (Paula), Alanna Ubach (Jane), Helen Fitzgerald (Cleo), Stanley DeSantis (Art), Jamie Kennedy (Eddie), David James Elliott (Mr. MacNamee), Debra Jo Rupp (Barbara), Kevin Cooney (Mr. Kilmer), Bob Balaban (Milton Lasky), Paul Dooley (Bud Chapman), Scott Mosenson (Jack Shoberg)

Production Notes

When your whole life revolves around meaningless office drudgery, molehills become mountains, petty theft looms like grand larceny and the most casual glances exchanged among co-workers can acquire a dark conspiratorial significance. This particular blend of boredom and paranoia is expertly evoked in Jill Sprecher’s small, gently surreal comedy “Clockwatchers”. As it follows the lives of four office temps who work side by side in the sterile cubicles of a corporate colossus called Global Credit, the movie rubs your face in the petty humiliations endured by women at the low end of the company totem pole. “Clockwatchers” observes this world through the eyes of Iris, a shy newcomer to Global Credit. Toni Collette was cast in the lead role – the first in an American film after a string of supporting characters for Miramax. “I think it’s the film I’ve felt the most connected to since Muriel’s Wedding,” Toni Collette said in an interview while attending Sundance. The film deals with the funny and poignant lives of a group of dissatisfied temporary office workers coping with insidious modern bureaucracy.

Collette plays the newcomer to the group, painfully shy and introverted. “You always find something within yourself with which you empathise, and you empathise through your own experience and what you understand as a person. For instance, with Muriel’s, at that stage of my life, I totally got that character, and when Clockwatchers came up, I had gone through similar emotions, so I was able to give as much as I could.” She sees this character as “very shy, very intelligent, very internal and very much in her own head.” The actress further defines the emotional connection between this character and herself. “I totally understood what was going on and that comes from within you.”

“Clockwatchers”, which was written by Jill Sprecher’s sister Karen, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen at over a dozen international festivals. It won a Best Film prize at the Torino International Festival of Young Cinema of 1997. Despite the favorable reviews, it took over a year to release the independent film in limited release in the United States.