December 03, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

Wendy and Lucy

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
80 minutes
Limited Release Date
12/10/08
performer
Michelle Williams, Will Patton, Will Oldham
director
Kelly Reichardt
distributor
Oscilloscope Pictures
author
Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
genre
Drama
We gave it an A-

Kelly Reichardt, who made the celebrated art road film Old Joy (2006), has perfected a mode of rapturous minimalism. She’s drawn to long, elliptical silences that speak more vibrantly than most movies’ words, and to naturalistic camera angles that are cut together with a diamond sharpness. More than that, though, she’s drawn to characters who are Dropouts Without a Cause. In Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, Wendy (Michelle Williams), with her college-punk chop-shop haircut and mopey passivity, looks about 20, but in spirit she’s a teenage runaway. On the road with her dog, Lucy, she’s trying to get to Alaska in a rusty Honda on a budget of $600. But when the car breaks down in a small town in Oregon, we can see that she’s going nowhere. Williams makes Wendy’s total lack of affect luminously expressive. Like Will Oldham’s cranky hippie in Old Joy, she’s a lost-soul bohemian straggler in a world that no longer has context for such a person. (No context, that is, but oblivion.) Then she loses her dog! Wendy and Lucy is like Lassie Come Home directed by Antonioni. What’s piercing about it, and also disturbing, is that Reichardt views the renunciation of society with something close to righteous purity — as a lefty romantic dream. A?

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