Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wendy and Lucy

It's rare to find a movie of 80 minutes. Of those movies, it's highly improbable that you will find one that doesn't feel shortchanged by its length. "Wendy and Lucy" is a prime example of a typical, too-short 80 minute movie, a feature length vignette of sorts that's not substantial enough as it needs to be. Director Kelly Reichardt ties things up way too fast. I would have been fine with 20 more minutes of the magnetic Wendy and her dog Lucy as they live off of a small sum of money. Wendy is, if you don't know already, Michelle Williams, who turns in a deep but somewhat overdone performance as a woman suffering from her poverty and relying on her dog to keep her company. She stops in a small Oregonian town to sleep and when awoken by a kind parking lot guard (Wally Dalton) realizes her car will not start. When she goes to the local grocery store, she's harassed for stealing a can of dog food for her canine, who goes missing as she's unnecessarily dragged into the police station. This leads to the central event of the plot: the search for the dog. This was underwhelming for what could have been mostly a brooding, quiet piece (which it is) instead of having to really have a purpose. Reichardt also decides the viewer needs to know Wendy's backstory, which I will not go into, but it's a flaw that chips away at a good study. The cinematography, by Sam Levy (who shot the weird "Green Porno" series) is odd and creates a strange touch. One strange touch that perhaps is a little too quirky is Williams' repeated interludes of humming. At first a nice moment to hold things together, it doesn't take long before the little melody she murmurs gets old. If this and a couple of other things had been fine-tuned, there would have been a big difference. I really liked "Wendy and Lucy" and at it's best it was nuanced, detailed, and saddening. But there was a little too much to stall it in the end. B

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