Wendy and Lucy Kelly Reichardt

Wendy and Lucy Kelly Reichardt
In what should have been subtitled A Series of Unfortunate Events, Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy follows a 20something woman en route to Alaska for a desperation job at a fishery. On the seemingly innocent road trip, Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams) and her mutt Lucy find their '88 Honda broken down in nowhere Oregon. With less than 600 dollars to her name and her only friend a generous security guard, Wendy finds herself hitting numerous stumbling blocks — getting caught shoplifting dog food, spending the day in jail and facing a hefty mechanic bill — only to find that Lucy has somehow gone missing. This predicament heightens the sense of realism and desperation that consumes Wendy, whose decisions automatically become setbacks as soon as they're made. Reichardt's minimalist tendencies present Wendy with few options in how she handles her circumstances. There are no explanations of Wendy's purpose or what drove her to leave wherever she uprooted from. But in limiting what we know about her, Reichardt builds up our curiosity. By restricting the cast and environment, the director also intensifies the lead character's despair and our sympathy. But the construction of such drama feels more as if she let Williams and her surroundings do all of the work. Using drawn-out shots and no soundtrack, Reichardt provides a disarming idea of what it's like to be all alone and vulnerable in the last place you'd want to be. When Wendy's search finds closure, it doesn't necessarily reach that dreaded climax one imagines, but anyone drawn to owner/pet relationships will find the final moments gut-wrenching yet shrewd. Wendy and Lucy further magnifies how the simplicity and nature of one ill-fated individual can produce such a brutal, honest and distressing little film that will remain with you long after the credits end. (Mongrel Media)