The lives of four Latina women are uniquely interwoven in Clams Casino. Arcelia Diaz, a twenty-something year old, is desperate to connect with her mother Gladys. While Gladys’ daily ritual consists of obsessive workouts and beautification, Arcelia spends her time in a strikingly different way. She often enjoys digging for clams and other crustaceans, cooking, and mastering the art of plate setting. While desperately using any moment to establish a relationship with her mother, Arcelia is faced with harsh criticism and disgust. Arcelia emerges herself in preparing an elaborate dinner as a way to deal with this rejection. Clearly there are other planned participants for this meal, but who are they and why does Arcelia place so much value on their presence?
Across town, another mother and daughter battle over communication and nourishment. Teenage daughter Lourdes forgoes food, instead weighing herself and carefully cataloging her physique in a series of selfies. To ease her hunger, she watches online videos of people consuming massive amounts of food on camera. Her mother Rocio frets over the rift between them.
These two distinct spheres collide when we come to discover Gladys and Rocio are friends. They bond over their inability to understand their daughters. When Rocio explains Lourdes’ recent actions more fully, something shifts in Gladys. There is a tie between Arcelia’s pastime and Lourdes’ obsession – two sides of the same coin.
Will Gladys find a way to let Arcelia in and give her the approval she so fervently wants? Perhaps she has secretly been supporting her all along? At its heart, Clams Casino is an exploration of our human desire for closeness and satiation. These women struggle with barriers of technology, self-involvement, and insecurity, but can they reach past all of that and really see each other?