Michelle Williams Grates in Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy

Michelle Williams Grates in Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy

That's Michelle Williams??

Kelly Reichardt's new film, Wendy and Lucy, will screen Saturday and Sunday at the New York Film Festival and as with the director's debut, Old Joy (2006), I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Old Joy, a modest and talk-heavy portrait of two men in their 30s whose friendship is straining, was praised to the heavens as an indie masterpiece, and the early word on Wendy and Lucy has followed suit, including this profile of lead actress Michelle Williams by former Voice editor Dennis Lim.

Williams's Wendy is a drifter, living out of an aging Honda Accord with her dog Lucy. Wendy's goal is to get the two of them to Alaska, where she can seek work in a cannery, but her plans are foiled when she's caught shoplifting and the dog goes missing. As in Old Joy, Reichardt's style is quiet, natural, and restrained—ideal for portraying the genuine anguish of losing a pet. The film is lovingly shot, yet as the indignities hurled at Williams's heroine pile up, Wendy and Lucy begins to look contrived and cruel, a Dogville for the emo set. By the film's second hour, Williams's impassive martyr routine is no longer poignant—it's just annoying.-Benjamin Strong


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