September 22, 2008

NYFF. Wendy and Lucy.

"Much like her last film, Old Joy, Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy is another slice of minimalist indie-Americana that has been receiving rave reviews since its debut at Cannes, particularly for Michelle Williams's stirring lead performance," writes Filmbrain.

Wendy and Lucy

"That I wasn't completely bowled over by the film has left me with an intangible sense of disquiet... While there's certainly much to admire about the film, I can't help but cling to the notion that there's something missing, and that it (at times) employs conventional tactics that weaken the work."

"Reichardt's artistry outweighs (or at least sufficiently counterbalances) her ambition to Say Something About Amerika," writes Vadim Rizov at the House Next Door. "Reichardt's style clears the mind: dialogue is minimal - not artificially, just leaving Williams on her own - framings elegant and magisterial. I didn't realize how much I liked it until 20 minutes after it was over. The world Reichardt explores - the flat parking lots so close to the woods - is one I recognize. Reichardt's political ideas are easy to translate into words, and not necessarily good ones; what makes her film haunting is mostly ineffable."

"Like a few of the other very few good, visible, working American filmmakers (Van Sant, Jacobs, Hutton, Benning, Malick, maybe Kerrigan, not to mention lessers like Haynes, Penn and Gianvito), Reichhardt, in an age of globalization and gentrification, Starbucks and Walmarts, is obsessed with recovering hints of Americana: trains and campfires and hobos, marginalized migrants, the people, pioneers or nomads or both, who, as Woody Guthrie put it (and trains do), keep on keeping on," writes David Phelps in the Auteurs' Notebook. "Mythic folk figure or lonely dog-lover, Wendy is one of what, despite the absence of the new Dardennes film, looks to be a series of NYFF protagonists pacing constantly and tacitly, unable to communicate with a world and its rigid social order that're totally incompatible with their own private dreams and fears (see also, by all means: The Headless Woman, Tony Manero)."

"Absent any showy histrionics or mannerisms, [Williams's] performance makes painfully real Reichardt's depiction of everyday problems magnified by poverty into mini-calamities, exhibiting a measured grace that's matched by complementary beginning-middle-end tracking shots - of woman and dog playing fetch, of dog pound cages, and of dusk-dappled trees spied from a moving train - that encapsulate the film's emotional trajectory from contentment to sorrow to hopeful uncertainty." Nick Schager in Slant.

Earlier: Reviews from Cannes and Toronto.

Update, 10/4: Artforum's Brian Sholis interviews Reichardt.

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Posted by dwhudson at September 22, 2008 11:34 AM