Saturday, October 18, 2008

Kelly Reichardt's WENDY AND LUCY

Wendy and Lucy screens today, 10/18, at 600 North Michigan at 6:10pm.

I was lucky to obtain the last ticket to Friday’s screening of Wendy and Lucy, which will likely sell out again tonight. Reichardt’s film is set to receive a wider release soon, but it seems like the optimal experience would be seeing it with a full house that doesn’t know just what to expect. The subject is homelessness in the United States, but Reichardt avoids any systemic judgments: Like many great political films before it, Wendy and Lucy focuses on specific moments that reframe “issues” as human experiences. The film observes a few days in Wendy’s life as her car breaks down in small-town Oregon and things go from bad to worse. Some critics have accused Michelle Williams as being too pretty a choice to play Wendy, but that seems like part of the movie’s point: Poverty can fall upon anyone with bad enough luck, not just people who “look” homeless. Wendy’s relationship with her dog Lucy—the one thing that keeps her going, much like Umberto D.’s immortal love for his Flag—further humanizes the situation, as does Reichardt’s eye for Oregonian life. The film has a heartfelt, handmade look to it (which often feels like 16-millimeter, even though it was shot on 35), which makes this one of the best pieces of regional American filmmaking since Julian Goldberger’s The Hawk is Dying (2006). (2008, 80 min 35mm)

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