Certain Women ★★★★½

2016 me was an absolute dumb fuck. This film is a miracle. I must’ve been in a bad mood or I wasn’t paying attention or maybe I didn’t see it with the right mindset, but I can say for certain that I completely misjudged it. Reichardt’s film (still the only one I’ve seen of her but I’m planning on changing that soon) has such a unique quality to it that, to put it simply, enchanted me. Or no, I’d rather say it embraced me. Where at first I saw a rather empty collection of short stories, I know got struck by something else in the film which I didn’t expect to enamor me so much: it’s atmosphere.

Some of the first images we see are of a snow-covered town surrounded by dark grey clouds. The sounds we hear are muted. You can hear them faintly in the distance and Reichardt slowly pulls us closer to the bustling of the city which, at its worst, is still rather pleasant to hear. When the first characters appear they don’t immediately start talking. We get the chance to see them put their clothes on and before they even say a word to each other they just look at one another and their looks already say more than enough.

While the stories Reichardt shows don’t always have the most pleasant or comforting outcomes, the atmosphere of the whole Northwest feels like a nice, warm blanket. Or perhaps I should say it makes you long for it. The women in the stories, each of them with a strong will, find solutions to their problems in one way or another. It doesn’t necessarily mean they feel happy with how things play out but it’s almost as if that’s how it’s meant to be in that cold, remote part of the world. There’s never a clear climax to any of the three storylines. They end without clear notice to flow into the next. There isn’t a loud bang to signal the solution but instead, the sound stays quiet; quiet but never gone. It’s as much a slice of life as anything that could be put on screen. Certain Women shows a truth, a vivid, lifelike world that so rarely gets put on screen. It’s introverted and, to a certain extent, wholesome, in its portrayal of certain women and the certain struggles they have. It’s minimal and therefore also rather peaceful but that doesn’t take away that it is able to have an immense impact. It’s truly a gift to see such real people put on screen without exploiting their emotions. Kelly Reichardt, you just stole my heart and you can keep it!

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