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WENDY AND LUCY

Director: KELLY REICHARDT

U.S.A. • 2008 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 35MM • 80 MIN


IS FREEDOM STILL JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE? THIS POIGNANT, BRACING DRAMA FROM U.S. INDIE AUTEUR KELLY REICHARDT OFFERS A COMPASSIONATE LOOK AT A CASH-STRAPPED DRIFTER’S BATTLE TO HOLD ONTO HER DIGNITY WHILE SUBURBAN AMERICA TREATS HER LIKE SHE’S HARDLY THERE.
Although Michelle Williams has gathered most headlines lately as the bereaved other half of an ill-fated fellow performer (Heath Ledger), here she offers fulsome confirmation of her own acting prowess as the up-against-it Wendy, a young woman evidently in flight from some past event which has cast her adrift from friends and family. She arrives in a small town in the Pacific Northwest with her clapped-out car, her faithful mongrel Lucy, and a shrinking stash of cash. What happens next is a sobering warning of how easily disaster can hobble a life with no margin for error, but when Lucy goes missing, that’s the toughest blow to bear…
While Reichardt’s previous offering, Old Joy, was an elegiac vignette of friendship lost, this is an even stronger effort, in which humane insight and compassion meld with solid dramatic instincts so that little things mean a lot. In some ways, it’s a modern spin on Vittorio De Sica’s Italian Neo-Realist classic Umberto D., situating the loving relationship between man and canine at the crux of a not-uncritical portrait of social indifference. Here’s a film which isn’t after glib emotional manipulation, but uses the spectre of losing everything as a sincere investigation of our own attitudes towards our dispossessed brethren. Williams’ performance, both steely and utterly vulnerable, is affecting indeed. — Trevor Johnston.

Irish Shorts @ IFI. This screening includes the IFB funded short Nobody Home, Eamon Little’s film about a day in the life of a remote answering machine whose cryptic messages hint at a hidden wealth of human drama. (Ireland, 2002. 3 min.)

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