Wendy and Lucy

Wendy and Lucy

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

It's so dark. He rifles through her stuff, maybe he takes something (it's so dark, after all), and the camera glances at him a few times. But then it just watches Wendy's face and lets the tension build. In another movie, this would derive terror from the supernatural or from some shocking action designed to break through our assumptions, but here, we just watch her face and the reality of the situation sinks in. The man rambles, and his words are over-the-top in a delusional sort of way.

It's an easy leap from this moment of isolation (filmed in darkness, only her face really visible) to realizing what having Lucy with her means. Lucy is security, comfort, familiarity, love. All those things dogs always are (to people who love them, I think, you tell me, dog-lovers). (It's equally evident as we are shown first thing that Lucy is how she safely connects with most people.) So this becomes a pretty clear theme as she leaves Lucy behind in the end; she walks off without a safety net. She chooses this, she makes the decision to step out into the unknown, after an odyssey wandering, lost, alone, distraught. She finds home again and realizes (like a Campbellian hero) that she can't go back again.

This film uses this quiet set up to paint us a vivid picture. Wendy has little means, Wendy has minor goals. Men (or sometimes The Man, sure) keep antagonizing her (even the most sympathetic man initially forces her out of a safe spot). (I can't imagine the filmmaker chose the auto-mechanic lightly; the standard assumption that auto-mechanics are untrustworthy bleeds into every scene, no matter how nice he is about it.) The film shows the hustles and fights Wendy has to go through to survive, like she's constantly trying to prove that she isn't a fool or a criminal (okay, she shoplifted; that only made her my hero. And besides, she has a budget and car repairs aren't in it). That pompous stocker's bland motivations for what I dunno a small raise at the expense of human kindness is as evil an action as I can rate.

But when it comes down to it, when Wendy faces the Big Choice, she chooses the compassionate path. Lucy is left in a good home (as far as we know). Wendy rides the rails and continues her journey on the fringe, with her meager means, leaving it all behind, because fuck it, she can make it. There's no place for her in these dirty suburban hells; it's a terrifying moment, her on that rain. But it's also empowering and beautiful and so so so sad.

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