The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail.The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail.The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail.
Although feminists should be proud of the three heroines in Certain Women, their actions are not so much the stuff of heroics as they mostly navigate around misogyny and sloth in a world that mostly listens to men first even if the women are right most of the time.
Laura Wells (Laura Dern) is an attorney with not really a thriving practice, but she gets along. One client, Fuller (Jared Harris), is a worker trying in vain to get more compensation for an accident while he slowly becomes derailed. In the most fraught incident of the trilogy, she must enter a building with a bullet-proof vest to face him as he holds a guard hostage. That she is the one to confront him, and not a crisis squad, is one of the stories' touches that clarifies why the heroines are "certain" women.
Gina Lewis (Michelle Williams) is building a prairie house, part of which will be built with a pile of stones, she, not her husband, tries to convince an old man to sell. Her quiet resolve in the face of mostly feckless men is not so much heroic as it is her certainty that she must be the strong one.
Jamie (Lily Gladstone), a portly ranch hand who falls for an evening school teacher-lawyer, Beth Travis (Kristen Stewart), is the least glamorous of the three (no I Phone for this cowgirl) but with an inner depth that eclipses the other two. Jamie and Beth's evening ride to the diner on a horse is romantic in a subtle way rarely seen before.
If you think I haven't described anything dramatically worthy of a full-length motion picture, you're right. The real drama bleeds out of the actors' interior depictions, the personal strength that overcomes diminishment by the vast plains, snow-capped mountains, and weak men.
Because the three episodes are derived from native Maile Maloy's short stories, Certain Women is a tour de force of feminism disguised as rambling stories of women making a hard living in a hard West. Hooray for them as the cowboys and the horses are not the real forces at work.
- Nov 1, 2016