A woman's life is derailed en route to a potentially lucrative summer job. When her car breaks down, and her dog is taken to the pound, the thin fabric of her financial situation comes apart, and she is led through a series of increasingly dire economic decisions. Written by
To say that this film is spare is to be generous; and, to whatever extent actors become their characters, Michelle Williams becomes Wendy, a young woman that is hanging by a thread. Wendy is doing her best, with little support and money, to survive day to day and to maintain her dignity. Along the way she loses her dog Lucy, the only stable and loving relationship in her life. Ultimately, she is faced with making a heartbreaking decision that their mutual welfare will depend upon. As her car (and bed) breaks down and resources dwindle, she collects cans and bottles and shoplifts dog food. She encounters a group of homeless people making a fire, a self-righteous store clerk, a smug auto mechanic, a sympathetic security guard, and a psychotic drifter, among others. We see each of them from the perspective of a young woman on the verge of economic collapse and who is gradually being transformed into someone facing the possibility of homeless destitution. Wendy offers a lens through which we can see such a transformation evolve. All homeless people, unless born into this condition, were something and somewhere else first. Wendy is such a person. As the economy declines and more and more people retreat into survival mode, it will be harder for them, for us, to empathize with the Wendys of the world, young people with once bright futures now facing desperate and maybe devastating times. I have heard it said that empathy is the first hostage of survival. Wendy and Lucy is an important little film, a slice of life, that not enough people will see and that offers us a window on what more and more young people will be facing for some time to come. This film pleads with us not to close our eyes or turn our backs on them.
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