Kelly Reichardt’s fierce, unwavering empathy for outsiders – those who’ve missed the gravy train and are in the process of falling off the grid too – were on exquisite display in the bleak, low-key and deeply poignant Wendy and Lucy. Imbued with the quintessential spirit of a road movie and Americana, this was a tale of existential despair, loneliness, hopelessness and alienation amidst a social structure built on exclusion; hence its drifting heroine, who’s resolutely defiant despite – to quote R.E.M. – fast losing her religion, reminds one of Varda’s Vagabond, even if the latter was admittedly far more relentless, desolate and nihilistic. Wendy (Michelle Williams) is a young, taciturn woman – fragile, alone and broke, but not without fortitude – who’s driving to Alaska with her dog and sole companion in life Lucy (Reichardt’s own pet poodle), assuming there are jobs there. A pit stop at a town in Oregon, however, takes her to the edge of her sanity upon being hit by a series of bad lucks – she gets arrested while trying to shoplift food for Lucy; she gets released from custody by almost clearing her little stash of savings, only to find that Lucy has disappeared without a trace; and if these weren’t enough, her car too breaks down leaving her dispossessed and homeless. While everyone around her either distrust her or frown upon her or patronize her or even potential wish to take advantage of her, she finds a rare kindred spirit in a middle-aged security guard (Walter Dalton) who’s stuck in a thankless 12-hour job. Williams’ extraordinarily immersive turn was accompanied by grainy visuals that edgily captured the milieu and a lullaby like score that furthered the film’s melancholic tone.
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Road Movie