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
Is there no more great frontier? Has time run out on those who look west to a better tomorrow? 'Wendy and Lucy' is a small movie with its scope set on a larger, subtle target. Soft-spoken but very admirable, Kelly Reichardt has crafted a touching story of one girl's endless search for her dog.
On the road to Alaska in search for better economic opportunity, Wendy finds herself in a small Oregon town where its citizens seem to live on the fringe of poverty long after job-providing factories have closed up shop. Keeping track of every penny she spends, Wendy's car suddenly won't start. And after an attempt to shoplift a bit of food sidelines her, she loses track of Lucy. A dog, a companion, and her best friend.
A determined Wendy searches for Lucy in every nook and cranny. Played by a quiet Michelle Williams, this is a subdued performance but a strong one. A portrait of loneliness, of heartbreak. She lives a life far from fortunate, but she holds her head high and looks to Alaska for hope. And in a small neighborhood where her situation seems to only go from bad to worse, Wendy has nobody to rely on but a friendly elderly security guard. Giving her a sense of moral support she probably is in desperate need for, we expect emotion. But staring panic in the face, Wendy remains strong. Her first moment of visible emotional anguish and vulnerability comes after a terrifying encounter in a forest in the middle of the night. A glimpse into her future as a vagabond? 'Wendy and Lucy' comes at a time when our own economy is in a state of perpetual free fall, which helps Reichardt drive her timely message home. It is these often seemingly mundane and unimportant everyday activities that may cause the film to drag, though it comes in at a slim 80 minutes. But it is these events that help the film and Williams find personality. 'Wendy and Lucy' asks us to be strong, to stick with our character. And it offers an ending that will pull at the heartstring of even the most hardened cynic. A tough, very challenging situation you and I would never want to find ourselves in. It speaks of conviction, of doing the right thing even when it's impossibly difficult.
Raw but surprisingly gripping, Reichardt does much with little. It's a touching picture, a bittersweet one. 'Wendy and Lucy' may feel minor, but it's a fine piece of beautifully told cinema. A snapshot that gains more appreciation upon reflection.
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