While on a trip to Thailand, a successful American businessman tries to radically change his life. Back in New York, his wife and daughter find their relationship with their live-in Filipino maid changing around them. At the same time, in the Philippines, the maid's family struggles to deal with her absence.
Gael García Bernal,
"Tallahatchie Bridge": With those two simple words, the powerful images of a lost innocence, a murky river and a mysterious suicide spring to mind. Scorning the demands of her overbearing ... See full summary »
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
At last, a new voice in the American cinematic experience
Far more refreshing to see the first and perhaps only truly flawless film of 2008 is the fact that Wendy and Lucy may be one of the first pieces of American contemporary art to both attempt to and succeed at encapsulating the entire human experience, particularly during our current universal financial and cultural malaise.
I was particularly impressed to see a female writer/director--an American female, at that--who so deftly crafted a film with no rough edges, an efficient and earnest work that suffered none from any kind of artificial maudlin sentimentality.
From moment one, it is clear that Ms. Reichardt has paid well-deserved attention to the works of Gus Van Sant (and in fact she gives thanks to Van Sant's genius cinematographer, Harris Savides, responsible for the ambrosial Death Trilogy). But too has this vibrant and adept filmmaker paid great notice to the neo-realists of yesteryear, particularly De Sica (the entire film can almost be seen as a contemporized Umberto D.).
It is thus both for the content and form alike that Wendy and Lucy is indeed an imperative film in today's society, one that I hope will have a lasting shelf life and will allow Ms. Reichardt to continue doing what she clearly does best.
(Also, I've decided to add this short digression in here, as I'm saddened--though not surprised--by a great deal of the antipathy being dumped upon this fine American minimalist film. I've seen many reviews castigate Wendy and Lucy for being a film "without enough depth or background," with characters whose plights are far too "simplistic," or for simply being too nihilistic and bleak in its outlook of our current times.
It is because Ms. Reichardt has decided to cast away the prototypical shackles of American films and to give us an earnest story with characters plucked directly from today's quotidian struggles that she, and her entire crew, should be applauded.
Reichardt's unique choice of creating a film of empathy is unique, as, more and more, our American filmmakers choose to make films of sympathy: films that tell you too much, that give you all of the answers, and that break away from any semblance of truth or universality.
Fortunately for those who had difficulty sitting still through a quiet, unassuming film such as Wendy and Lucy, there is more than enough television on the airwaves these days to satisfy. And fortunately, for the rest of us, those who are actually going through the very struggles that Wendy endures or who at least have any kind of awareness of these struggles, there is this brilliant and vital film.)
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