Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt) 2008

Wendy and Lucy follows a 20 something girl Wendy as she is making a trip to Alaska to hopefully get a job in a fishing cannery. She is accompanied by her only friend, a golden retriever named Lucy. She is stopped in a Washington town where her car breaks down. The repairs will take most of her savings, and in an attempt to save money tries to shoplift food for her dog. Wendy is caught forcing her to pay money for her punishment and when she is released loses Lucy. The rest of the movie is Wendy’s attempt to find Lucy again.

I must admit I was a little frustrated by this movie. Sure Michelle Williams’ performance is daring as many people had pointed out, but I found the pacing of the movie to be aggravating. It all had a Brown Bunny feel to it where we would get extended shots of Wendy just walking for five minutes or Wendy calling out “Loo” in a parking lot for another five minutes. It got tedious at times and I could tell the audience I was with was snickering and getting restless as well. I can appreciate minimalist storytelling as with Jim Jarmusch but even this was getting to me. After reading several reviews I can understand why people love it. This is a movie about people that have fallen through the cracks and is more potent with the current recession. Wendy is a tragic character in that she is giving a Herculean effort in simply getting a job to keep herself afloat. She is not going to Alaska for some Into the Wild commune with nature or grand adventure: she wants a modest paycheck. Wendy keeps a small ledger which shows her ever dwindling savings on her trip to Alaska. When her car breaks down the cost to repair it is heartbreaking. When she has to pay a fine, it is an emotional punch. The ending, if you can call it that, is heartbreaking. I say that because there is no end to Wendy. All we get is an uncertain future. Wendy should be applauded in that she is a honest creature (admittedly minus the shoplifting event) that does not resort to drugs or give up on life despite all the hurdles thrust at her.

It was said by one reviewer that if you have lead a privileged life you will never understand the appeal of Wendy and Lucy. I don’t know about that. I’ll admit I was a little befuddled by the movie initially and I will have to give it a few more views to get it all. I do still think the story is too stripped down and plodding for most audiences which will ignore it as typical indie trash. Overall I thought it was a good movie but it is a little too well, boring (there I said it) for everyone else.


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