Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wendy and Lucy (2008)

This movie is not for everyone. Curious art-indie buffs, you know who you are. Others, look elsewhere. "Wendy and Lucy" is 'real' in such a way that it will delight a certain audience and bore the pants off everyone else.

   Drifter Wendy (Michelle Williams,) camping out in Oregon on her way to find work in Alaska, travels alone except for her beloved dog, Lucy. So when Lucy goes missing in a small podunk Oregon town, Wendy vows not to leave until she finds her best friend and traveling companion.

   Invested in her plight is a kind, otherwise unnamed Security Guard (Wally Dalton) who doesn't seem to do much work but instead gives her advice and comfort while she tries to find her dog. Wendy comes into contact with other people, some helpful, some detrimental, and in the end must make a painful and difficult choice.

   Although the grainy imagery can be a little frustrating, "Wendy and Lucy" is a touching, and above all, real little tale. It's the kind of film that doesn't have a hook, but wins us over with it's true-to-life characters and situations, and makes us wonder what's going to happen.

 Michelle Williams is extremely convincing as flawed protagonist Wendy, and Lucy is a very cute and charming canine. This is the kind of movie people will argue has no 'point.' Since when does a film have to have a lesson, a glossy twist ending, or an revelation at before the end credits?

   Isn't a depiction of real, believable people and honest plot developments enough to to keep the audience watching? Since when did we become a legion of people who need a robot, a superhero, farting animated animals, or a masked killer to keep us invested in a story? Maybe I sound pretentious. But I can't help but wonder if peoples' interest in the movies is regressing.

   I've seen Michelle Williams in two movies recently. "Take This Waltz" had its moments, but was also often glib and sitcom-ish, despite a painfully effective ending. "Wendy and Lucy," the more effective of the two films, was never unbelievable and never simplistic, a testament to the power of kitchen sink realism in film.

   "Wendy and Lucy" also excels in the way that it portrays poverty without the morbid vision of filth and decay many movies strive for. Overall, it's more "Winter's Bone" than "Requiem for a Dream," and delivers pathos and sympathy rather than cheap shocks.

   Not that it doesn't have tense moments, such as when Wendy sleeps in the woods and comes face to face with an unexpected intruder. It just doesn't overplay its hand trying to be disgusting and gratuitous, and portraying Williams as a wretched drifting waif. I hope you see it.




  1. Nice review, Sarah! I also liked this movie, which Josh (The Cinematic Spectacle) recommended and I found used online. Michelle Williams is terrific in everything, and I was impressed with that she did here. I like what you said about this film being a testament to kitchen sink realism. This movie does speak volumes about social reality, and what happens when people have no financial buffer or social supports to fall back on, without needing to drive homes its point.

    1. Glad you both liked the film. Williams gives a wonderful performance, indeed.

  2. I haven't seen it in a while, and I usually struggle with slow-paced movies. Some films are slow for the sake of being arty, but I think Wendy and Lucy actually needed to be slow, like you said, to get that realism. I've seen three of Kelly Reichardt's features(was bored by Meek's Cutoff,Old Joy was decent). Wendy and Lucy is my favorite of the three.
    I hadn't thought of that the film: "portrays poverty without the morbid vision of filth and decay many movies strive for"
    According to IMDb, Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves (2013) is out in September in the US.

  3. Wow Sarah! Very professional and succinct writing (not that I'm a writing expert or anything;). You should see if the local papers would like a local review of movies running in our local theaters. Share your awesomeness!


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