Wendy and Lucy (USA; 80 min.)

directed by: Kelly Reichardt
starring: Michelle Williams; Will Patton; Wally Dalton
Wendy and Lucy

Bruce says: "Kelly Reichardt from the looks of things is the modern chronicler of quiet desperation.  WENDY AND LUCY is similar in many ways to her critically acclaimed earlier work, OLD JOY.   The story is sparse, almost non-existent.  There are no plot twists to follow or subplots to track.  Michelle Williams plays Wendy, a young woman from somewhere in Indiana (our clues are her Indiana license plates and a phone call to her sister and brother-in-law in Muncie.)  She has driven cross country with her dog Lucy a gorgeous mixed breed, likely a yellow lab mixed with one or two other breeds.  They have reached Wilsonville OR, a southern suburb of Portland.  Wendy is headed for Alaska, hoping for good fortune or a reversal of fortune, which is uncertain.  We never really find out much about Wendy and whether she is running to or from something.

"She sleeps in her car and is awakened by a Walgreen’s parking lot guard (Wally Dalton) who tells her she must move on.  Moving on involves parking along the curb outside the lot.  She asks the guard directions to food and telephone.  While in Jack’s, the local grocery, she is spotted shoplifting by a young high school kid.  He nabs her on the way out.  The store manager calls the police who take her to headquarters.  Poor Lucy is left tethered to the bike rack in front of the grocery.

"Released from custody many hours later, Wendy goes back to the grocery to find the bike rack standing alone, no Lucy in sight.   The rest of the film involves her attempts to find Lucy and dealing with car problems.  The manager of the auto repair (Will Patton) across from Walgreen’s may or may not be ripping her off.  The Walgreen’s guard treats her as though she were family, a gentle touch Wendy desperately needs.  He directs her to the local dog pound where she is encouraged that she will find her dog. 

"Lucy is a lost soul, that we know.  As endearing as the film may be, the character of Wendy is not fleshed out enough to fully engage the viewer.  Like OLD JOY, WENDY AND LUCY has elegiac moments.  Michelle Williams, one of my favorite actresses, is very good; nonetheless, this is not one of her better roles because of her character’s limited emotional range.  That shut down people like Wendy exist is not in question; whether we want to share her non-specific angst is the issue.  3.5 cats  

"WENDY AND LUCY screened at the 2008 New York Film Festival."

Diane says: "Recommended for those who like movies where not much happens--yeah, like OLD JOY, this director's earlier film, which I was crazy about. WENDY AND LUCY shares the slow pace, the focus on ordinary stuff, the Oregon setting. But while the poignant loneliness of OLD JOY comes from failing to connect with the one you're with, Wendy's is the loneliness of being on your own in a strange place.

"More than most movies, here the viewer's experience determines how much sympathy or exasperation you'll have for the main character. (Consider this review: 'Reichardt has described her movie as a post-Katrina story: Although it's never made obvious, Wendy apparently lost everything except Lucy in some previous catastrophe.' Huh?) A couple of us at last night's viewing criticized Wendy for her choices. It was just like watching TIMECRIMES: would I make the same bad choices? would I lose my trust of people? And seeing  the hobo doc CATCHING OUTaffected my viewing: I couldn't feel too bad for Wendy hopping a train.

"But Michelle Williams (Wendy) is awesome in a subtle perf, worth a best actress nom. Next up for her: a Lukas Moodysson opposite Gael Garcia Bernal--woo hoo! Director's dog, as Lucy, also contributes a great turn. 4 cats."