Wendy and Lucy

In these tumultuous financial and political times, little indie gems like Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy strike a chord that everyone can relate to, in a very real, and very terrifying way.  Its minimalism paves the way for some truly genuine and touching moments that are many times glossed over in bigger films.  This sad ode to poverty, and to an America where even the most deserving sometimes can’t find a place for themselves offers little in the way of inspiration, but much, much more in it’s quiet, muted portrait of tragedy and estrangement from a place once called home.

The story of Wendy and Lucy isn’t much.  In fact providing a synopsis gives the false impression of a strong plot line.  In any case, the film follows Wendy, played by Michelle Williams (probably the best performance of her career) and her dog Lucy.  She’s unable to find work, and is passing through a small town in Oregon on her way to Alaska, hoping to work in the canneries.  While she has thin ties to Indiana (license plates, a brief phone call to an apathetic sister who lives there), it’s not really clear where she’s coming from, clear emphasis on the girl who has no place to call her own.  She sleeps in her car, and her small cash reserves are in danger of depletion as her car breaks down, and the cost looms over her.  In the mean time, she’s caught shoplifting a can of dog food for Lucy, and while she’s in custody at the police station, Lucy disappears.

It’s at this point in the plot that the slow, meditative pacing allows the viewer to be profoundly moved, as Wendy wanders the town, without a home now her car is gone, without her best friend, and seemingly hopeless.  This is Reichardt’s third film (Old Joy hit theaters last year), and she co-wrote the script with Jonathan Raymond.  However, it’s this film that puts her in a league of her own.  Details on Wendy and Lucy‘s budget are difficult to find, but it couldn’t be much more than a million dollars, which goes to prove that to make terrific film, all you need is talent.  Williams performance is utterly heartbreaking, and brilliant its subtleties.  She manages display a thousand emotions on her face without ever saying a word.  While it’s difficult subject matter (especially for those expecting escapism from these very subjects), the lachrymose mode gives way to a sense of hope and possibility that makes the film worth seeing.

★★★½

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2 Responses to “Wendy and Lucy”
  1. Ivy says:

    I was DYING to see this movie, but it wasn’t playing anywhere… except this one theater in NYC for no time at all and I couldn’t get there.

  2. I get sad just thinking about this movie.

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