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If you are looking for the definition of a non-Rom-Com, the words “Kelly Reichardt” will yield good results. I have recently seen “Old Joy”, I have seen clips from “Meek’s Cutoff”, and now I have seen “Wendy and Lucy”… life is grim in Reichardt’s world. For Wendy, played with an interesting mix of stern dedication and vulnerability by Michelle Williams, life is not a happy place today: her car broke down, she got arrested and fined for shoplifting dog food, and that dog Lucy disappeared from where she had been parked in front of the supermarket. Every step is a step down a spiral that brings about more bleakness, and Wendy does not even know what she would do if she reached the next level (was it Alaska?). This desperation makes even an 80-minute film a bit hard to watch at times, because the despair we witness is not even dramatic, it is just bleak. What makes it still a remarkable film is the fact that Wendy’s character balances so dedicatedly balances on the verge of surrendering (even though we cannot really see how you could do that – just lie down on the road and cry?), and that Michelle Williams portraits her in such a marvelous way: pretty fragile, a bit tough, still able to make tough decisions, and we neither believe she will end up dead in a ditch nor that she will strike luck at the bingo table. She seems to be cut out to be not particularly lucky, but a somehow good person, and it this normality (actually not seen too often in real life) that creates the audience’s affection for her.

And a word on Michelle Williams: I was wondering – is she maybe the only really well-known actor who draws her fame exclusively from arthouse productions? I cannot think of anybody else. Astonishing.

Now I am looking even more forward to “Meek’s Cutoff”!

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wendy_and_lucy

 

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