Certain Women

There's a sensation I feel when listening to some ambient music, something I assume many people feel, of being lulled, of being calmed, of being weightless. That's what this film, with its long, quiet spaces; wide open landscapes; and intricate details does. It suffuses you with peace, even in its most awkward moments, even with the threat of violence in the air, even amidst heartbreak or decay. It reminded me so strongly of the sensation I felt reading Casey Plett's "Not Bleak." In the face of the bitter cold (you can feel it just by watching--something about all those coats), it seems easy to slip into feeling removed from this film, but the mixture of performance (no weak performance graces the screen) and details (those oddly familiar streets, the way people eat, the direct and natural dialogue) evokes that soothing energy that I associate with ambient music, defying the bleakness Montana cold suggests in my mind. In Plett's story, the monologue that holds the title is both harrowing and empowering at once, acknowledging the hope that exists not just for the characters, but for trans women as a whole. It's a kernel of defiance in a story of mixed emotions; Certain Women has that same feeling, but on a wider scale. The tone does not back away from the melancholy. There is no trite lesson or cathartic moment, but still, the film manages to suggest, somehow, in the undertone, that it isn't nearly as sad a film a it first seems to be.

52 project: 90/52

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