Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wendy and Lucy - Car Chase Wanted

Wendy and Lucy - Wendy (Michelle Williams) and Lucy (Lucy the dog, as herself) may be acting at an Oscar level here, but the film is a sleeper, in the worst sense of the term. Three car chases (at least one of which could be a dog chasing a car), two Bond girls and a train derailment would not be enough to wake up this movie, or its audience. Wendy is travelling from Indiana to Alaska on a shoestring with her dog Lucy. Things go bad, then worse, then still worse in Oregon and Wendy has no cushion, no little bit extra, she can use to turn things around. There's no Hollywood rescue here, just a bittersweet choice of an ending. Relax, Wendy does not eat Lucy. I said bittersweet - not canine noir.

Williams does much with little. The film is foreboding from the first scene and Wendy's life matches the mood. Wendy is relatively calm and slow to ask for help, even as her situation deteriorates, but Williams produces some very memorable scenes with limited dialog and no false histrionics. Two moments stood out for me - a sudden shift from brazen to pleading with the grocery manager deciding her fate after she's caught shoplifting and a convincing display of sheer terror (somehow conveyed while wrapped in a blanket with her face showing for only a few moments) after a long overdue sleep is interrupted by a deranged hobo.

Despite Williams, and Lucy, few will enjoy this movie. Director Kelly Reichardt is getting festival kudos for a film with no wasted motion, but there is just not enough story here.

No comments: