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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wendy and Lucy - Michelle Williams Will Patton Movie Review

I have been lucky. I’ve never lived a life of poverty. Not that I’ve been wealthy, but I have had a wealth of friends , resources and good fortune that has prevented me from ever falling through the cracks of society.

Wendy is travelling from Indiana to Alaska in hopes of finding a job. With her is her dog, Lucy.  Lucy I am convinced is her only friend in the world.. The film doesn’t tell you this directly but you somehow know she has left nothing behind in Indiana. Her cash, car and dog are her only possessions and all she has to rely on.

She winds up broke down in a depressed town in Oregon. She loses her dog. She is has no place to go, no place to stay and not much money in her pocket. She has nothing and is in a town that has nothing to offer.

I mentioned that I have never been poor. I have never fallen through the cracks into a transient, impoverished cycle with little opportunities out. While I cannot speak from experience, it is due to great writing, acting and directing that convinces me “Wendy and Lucy” is all about falling through the cracks.

The film is 80 minutes long. In that short space of time this movie captures the agonizing amount of time poverty absorbs. It seems being poor requires and impossible amount of tedium. Walking long distances, waiting for a bus, sleeping outside all night, waiting in long lines, always waiting for something to happen that isn't quite in your control.   Wendy does all this in a never ending cycle she cannot get out of. All the while her limited cash is whittled away by both unexpected and necessary expenses.

There seems to be no purpose in this Oregon town and everything is reaching a dead end. The town itself feels empty except for a few souls biding their time. The mill is long gone and those who haven’t left have resigned themselves to a life without purpose. There is a security guard (Wally Daulton) who spends all day guarding an empty lot, a garage owner (Will Patton) working on a car not worth fixing, a young store clerk who works in a store that will likely close someday, and Wendy who, without her car, can not travel. She's trapped in this town just as she seems trapped in her life. Aren't we all trapped in a way?  I hand it to Wendy (and the terrific writing and direction of this film), at least she feels like she can make a big change.  I doubt many have such resolve.

Michele Williams, Will Patton and Wally Daulton are terrific in a very understated performance.  Their subtle subtle gestures and expressions convey to the audience the frustration of spending a life of idle time and frustration.

I've become quite a fan of writer director Kelly Reichardt and co-writer Jonathan Raymond.  They do a wonderful job with this film. They create a movie completely void of melodrama and cliche yet convey powerful messages and stir emotions that I suspect are difficult for viewers to understand.  If you are interested in learning more about their films, I recently watched "Old Joy."  A short film by Reichardt and Raymond. Check out my review of Old Joy if you get a chance.

Check it out.


Rated R

80 Minutes

More Film Reviews.... Please Read These If You Get a Moment.....

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