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Wendy and Lucy
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  • Many are like Wendy...One blown engine away from being forced to make tough decisions....
    I thought the movie was very compelling and enlightening. For me it illustrated that many of today's youth (in their late teens and early twenties) are like Wendy: living on the fringe, without the benefit of a supportive family, an elaborate education, a skill or craft, or money behind them.

    However, Wendy has a work ethic and a desire to better her position, evidenced by her long trip to find a job. She does not have the sense of entitlement that you see in more priveledged young people today. Again, many people in Wendy's straights are just one blown car engine away from a change in the course of their lives.

    It is a simple story, beautifully told and filmed in Ms. Reichardt's visually engrossing style. The long camera-panning scenes of the landscapes and the way the camera follows Wendy as she walks and runs thru the town at night are absolutely beautiful while also serving to move the story forward. Visually, the movie is stunning.

    Three other impressions:

    - Walter Dalton as the security guard gives a fine and subdued performance. His character illustrates a similar plight (and work ethic) as Wendy's. He is an elderly man working 12 hour shifts and states that the job is better than his last.

    - It seemed to me that many in the movie would have liked to have helped Wendy more than they did, but because of the system and economic situation they were in themselves, they could not. (For example, the store manager and the auto mechanic, and even the security guard).

    - Michelle Williams is wonderful in the movie. The long silences did not bother me. Her expressions and movements demonstrated to me that she is a girl who is down on her luck but has not despaired yet. She is thinking of the best solution for the problems she faces. Wendy may have made a couple of bad decisions. However, look at how young and on her own she is.

    Overall, a fine movie by a fine director. I highly recommend.
    ...more info
  • Beautiful Movie...
    It is an almost gentle intrusion into the life of the female character played so competently by the immensely talented Williams. The director scores heavily with not only Williams but with the rest of the cast too. The actors enacting the security man and car-mechanic/owner roles bring home some powerful performances. It is so natural that it becomes surreal; I would easily tag this director as a great student of Satyajit Ray - another champion of underdogs!! Best Movie of 2008 - actually Williams did a better job than her former (and dead) BF in Dark Knight ( yawn!!)...more info
  • Is It Just About a Girl and Her Dog?
    When a story is referred to as a Slice of Life, I usually take it with a grain of salt because the term is often used so generically. What exactly does Slice of Life mean? I think it means that the story is simple, direct, and realistically represented, with very little attention given to dramatic enhancements. "Wendy and Lucy" works on those levels, so I guess calling it a Slice of Life film would be accurate. What intrigues me is that it's a deeply heartfelt movie that doesn't beat you over the head with obvious heartfelt elements; there are no tragic death scenes or lovelorn pleas, nor is there a sweeping musical score that's mostly made up of strings. It's a character study that intentionally reveals as little as possible; director/co-writer Kelly Reichardt wisely chose to let the course of events speak for the characters. It's relies on small, quiet moments of drama rather than a series of contrived, overblown occurrences.

    On the surface, there isn't much to analyze or even describe. Wendy (Michelle Williams) has left her home in Indiana to find work all the way up in Alaska. After her car breaks down in the middle of Oregon, she loses her beloved dog, Lucy, a loyal Golden Retriever mix. She then spends the rest of the film trying to find Lucy, all the while having to deal with a dwindling cash supply, which wasn't all that large to begin with.

    I'm reminded of an episode of "The Jack Benny Program" in which Benny appeared on a panel show with two other people. The host asked them about the significance of Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." The two guests felt that the story was a profound example of man's struggle against nature. Benny felt that it was just about an old man that went fishing. Some will see "Wendy and Lucy" and think it's just about a girl and her dog. Maybe it is, although I tend to doubt it. Wendy is a character I cared deeply about, and this is despite the fact that I knew virtually nothing about her. Somehow, I don't think I'd be able to care if the plot was the extent of the film's depth; there must have been something lying beneath the layers, something that allowed me to look past the stark, subdued nature of the story.

    That being said, I'm not sure what that something is. Maybe it's a simple matter of not wanting to see Wendy lost and alone in such a lifeless town, where people speak to her in as few words as possible. Then again, it's quite possible that she was lost and alone to begin with; the circumstances that led to her leaving Indiana are never discussed, but a brief conversation with her sister and her sister's husband hints that she was never close to them. It could also be that the town itself is symbolic of the dead zone in her life. I'm speculating, of course, although there's evidence to support it. Consider the fact that she can't bring herself to spend her money on simple things like a motel room; she would rather sleep in her car and freshen herself in the bathroom of mechanic's garage. It's one thing to save your money--it's another thing to deny yourself access to basic amenities.

    Most of the people Wendy runs into are lethargic, monotone, and dull, the unfortunate products of the town they grew up in. When Wendy is busted for shoplifting, even the stocker didn't sound convinced by his own assertion that the store has to set an example. She then meets the local mechanic (Will Patton), who's not interested in her car troubles and gives her the usual spiel about how much such and such a part will cost her. He pauses to take a call from his bookie, and even then, he sounds detached. Wendy also encounters a homeless man when she makes the mistake of deciding to sleep in the woods; it was hard to see him in the darkness, although I heard every word of his truthful but frightening speech about why he hates people.

    There is, in fact, only one character that Wendy gets along with: An old, lonely security guard who never tells Wendy his name (Wally Dalton). While he doesn't do much in the way of getting to know her, he's compelled to help her out by letting her use his cell phone for periodic calls to the local dog pound. This may or may not be the film's only attempt at contrived drama. The reason I'm not sure is because the security guard is, in most respects, just as dead inside as everyone else living in that town; he stands alone outside a building that no one ever seems to go into, so it's possible he sees Wendy only as someone to talk to. Then again, would someone in need of human contact even consider lending out his cell phone? From my point of view, that seems like an actual friendly gesture.

    It would seem that a lot of "Wendy and Lucy" is open to interpretation. The only clear aspect is the relationship between the title characters, which is the sole driving force of the plot. But does there need to be anything more? After all, the film does have a definite beginning, middle, and end, and this is despite the fact that there's so little emphasis on character development or even basic narrative exposition. And somehow, we're made to care for Wendy, a troubled young woman who only wanted to get to Alaska with her dog. The fact that we don't know where she came from or where she'll end up may not be all that satisfying, but hey, that's what you get from a Slice of Life....more info
  • A heartbreaking portrayal of true suffering...
    Sometimes simple can say so much, and that is the case with this independent gem. `Wendy and Lucy' quite simple tells the story of Wendy and Lucy, a young woman and her dog. Wendy is virtually homeless, sleeping in her car as she makes her way to Alaska where she feels her life will be better. Lucy is her faithful `yellow gold' dog who sticks by her side and proves to be the only sunlight in Wendy's life. The film opens with Wendy and Lucy walking through the woods playing fetch as a consistent and almost tranquil hum embeds itself in our ears and it is that simple imagery that tells us all we need to know about Wendy.

    Without Lucy, she is lost.

    The film doesn't have much plot depth, for it can be summed up in one sentence:

    "Wendy loses Lucy and desperately tries to find her."

    Trying to cast the film off as nothing more than that though is a shame, since despite the shallow plot points the film has such rich depth of character here. The real story is not Wendy's attempt to find Lucy but WHY Wendy must find Lucy. There is a statement on the back of the DVD that makes the accusation that the reason this film has an R rating is that censors don't want children to realize that people are lonely and that life is not always peachy. Well, honestly, this film is rated R for the F-words that are spoken (sure, there aren't a LOT, but there are more than 3); but I think that there lies some truth in that statement as well. We (and by we, I mean the general adult public) try so hard today to shield our children from pain that we don't prepare them enough for the actuality of that said pain. When they come face to face with the harsh realities of the world outside they may, sadly, be unable to cope with it. I'm not saying that allowing your children to watch this particular film is going to help them be better able to tackle life's eventual hard-times, but I do feel that more films like this need to be made, with a lighter rating (no need for the language at all here) in order to instill in children the need for a thick skin in this often grim society.

    Life is not always peachy; in fact, it rarely ever is.

    Michelle Williams is a revelation here, sinking so far into her character that she becomes in recognizable. The way her face contorts when she is hearing the worst news ever (just watch the way she crumbles with subtlety when she is hearing about her car) is just so soul reaching. She is the opposite of showy but she never fails to touch us. We understand why she needs to find Lucy because we can see in her eyes, in her mannerisms, in her voice that this dog is all she has left to hold onto. There are few films that require an actor or actress to carry every scene, and when that film comes along it takes a special actress to actually do just that.

    Michelle Williams does JUST that.

    The film is not going to be for everyone. With the simple plot progression some will find this boring, but that is a shame in my opinion. These small films are very important in getting to understand ourselves inside and out. `Wendy and Lucy' has been hailed as one of the best films of 2008, and I agree wholeheartedly. It is a story that will touch your heart with its honesty and sincerity. `Marley and Me' may have been a sweet and touching story of a family touched by the life of a dog, but `Wendy and Lucy' is an even more honest and poignant depiction of the deep-seated need for friendship and loyalty in ones life; even if it's from a dog....more info
  • Half a story ...
    As a teacher of homeless youth I find it amusing that so many reviewers read historic-rendering drama into the lives portrayed in this movie. Homelessness is crude, factual, nonromantic and filled with mundane issues of surviving a life of where to sleep, getting food & money and socializing with like situated compadres. On the whole the movie and acting portrayed Wendy's journey and encounters fairly accurately although most homeless youth would have dumpster dived before risking such an obvious shop lifting. Where I have issue with this movie is this cutesy-fashionable "leave-it-up-to-the-audience" to finish the story. That, supposedly suspenseful yet incomplete, writing style works only rarely in literature and has no resemblance to reality - everything has a naturally occurring beginning and an end. The audience shouldn't be creating endings for someone else's beginnings. If we did then we might as well write the whole story....more info