Clerks III: A Tale of Mortality & Convenience
A Non-Spoiler Analysis/Review of writer/director Kevin Smith’s newest installment in the Clerks franchise – “Clerks III.”
Clerks III – A Non-Spoiler Analysis And Review
What happens when you survive something, but yet you’re still grieving?
That is what writer/director Kevin Smith explores with his latest installment in the Clerks franchise – Clerks III.
In the film, after having a heart attack, convenience store worker Randall (Jeff Anderson) decides to make a movie about him and his best friend Dante’s (Brian O’Halloreen) life at the Quick Stop. They enroll their fellow worker Elias (Trevor Fehrman) as well as Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) to help out and that’s where I’m going to stop because … spoilers.
But while 1992’s Clerks, explored what it was like being in your 20s, stuck at a dead-end job …
In 2006’s Clerks II, Smith continues this introspection, tackling what it’s like to be in your 30s, stuck between making a future or just staying where you are.
And with Clerks III, Smith continues down this road, but in a different way. Partly inspired by surviving a heart attack in 2018, in the film, Smith tackles the theme of mortality and the decisions you make in life. Throughout it, we see how this view of mortality affects Dante and Randall. In Randall’s case, he realizes that he’s been living his life like a movie and gets the realization to go make a movie. Even if the only way they know how to make movies is … by watching movies.
We also see how the mortality of living affects how the characters see themselves within their station of life.
Despite being entrepreneurs, Dante and Randall are still perceived as ‘less than’ compared to everyone else. This is even said directly by Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith), who calls them the film’s title – Clerks.
In another scene, Dr. Landenheim (Amy Sedaris) – the doctor who has to operate on Randall, pokes fun at his tattoos. While Landenheim probably didn’t care about Dante and Randall’s position in life, people like Emma still judge people like our main protagonists, mainly because they’re not wealthy or weren’t able to move beyond their station in life.
However, the biggest thing the film explores is grief, and trying to move on while still trying to live.
There’s a scene towards the end of the movie, where a character is looking at his life through the view of a movie screen and decides to leave. When the person he is with asks why, the character says: “Don’t worry, I trust the director.” That is what Clerks III is about. Acceptance. Acceptance that we will get old and die one day on this Earth.
On a more personal note: This film broke me. Within the first five minutes, I was sobbing at the television and throughout the film. I was in shambles. It made me think about a recent passing in my own family this year and despite having gone through the grieving process, it still felt like a re-opened wound. But instead of sadness, there was was a process of acceptance. An acceptance within the mortality of this fragile plane of existence.
To sum it all up, Clerks III is a tale about mortality.
But, not JUST about mortality. It’s not a tale about how a convenience worker beat his own mortality and uses it as art. It’s not even a tale about beating that mortality to elevate your station in life. Rather, the tale Smith weaves is one about the acceptance of that mortality.
To know that your time is short and to come to terms and accept it. And to quote the song that starts the movie – “We’ll carry on.”