Wendy and Lucy

Wendy and Lucy ★★★

With her weighty silences, her loaded landscapes, and cuts that feel like tectonic shifts, Kelly Reichardt seems like the perfect director to make a film about someone on the fringes of society - for whom the minutae that many of us take for granted is all the more essential and, often, hard to come by. (We get a glimpse of this in Will Oldham's character in Old Joy, but he is secondary to Daniel London's character and the concept of poverty is on the periphery.)

But this film is the first time where Reichardt's minimalism feels slight to me. I love Reichardt's ability to say so much with so little, but I don't think she's saying enough here. She gives us just enough to understand and empathise with Wendy's situation, and all the implications therein - and maybe that is all she seeks to do - but for me there's something missing.

I'm not the biggest fan of "everything's going wrong" movies, so this might have contributed to my subdued reaction, but I still can't quite put my finger on why this didn't work as well as it should have. The Oregon setting, like Old Joy, is beautiful and evocative; it's serene and inviting in the same way, but this time there's something alien about it - "I'm not from around these parts" - and there is a constant underlying sense of dread.

The fact that the journey of Wendy and Lucy is almost circular - save for the one key point at the end - says a lot about people like Wendy. Every day is a struggle, and here we get a frightening insight into how easy it can be to fall over the precipice if one has to skirt the outer rims for too long. Sadly, like Wendy, I wish I'd come out of all this with a little bit more.

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