Sometimes a film's premise can just be that simple and still knock you over with its depth. It's not that I'm oversimplifying all that much - sure, you could boil Lord of the Rings down to "Dwarf discards ring" but that hardly describes the story, does it? What makes Wendy and Lucy different is that you'd be hard pressed to find much else to say about the film's setup if you were being quizzed about it. That's really all it is.
A girl loses a dog and it's engaging as hell. Ah, the beauty of simplicity.
From the film's website:
Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams) is driving to Ketchikan, Alaska, in hopes of a summer of lucrative work at the Northwestern Fish cannery, and the start of a new life with her dog, Lucy. When her car breaks down in Oregon, however, the thin fabric of her financial situation comes apart, and she confronts a series of increasingly dire economic decisions, with far-ranging repercussions for herself and Lucy. "Wendy and Lucy" addresses issues of sympathy and generosity at the edges of American life, revealing the limits and depths of people's duty to each other in tough times.
Director Kelly Reichardt and co-writer Jonathan Raymond (who also wrote the short story the film was based upon) are able to work magic with what amounts to one girl, a dog, and only a few other, minor characters. The key is in the emotional realism that's brought into the film, both from excellent performances all around and the slow but natural pacing of the film. It's like an artist painting a masterpiece with only a basic watercolor kit - they were able to build something amazing with so very little.
Bresson made films like this. Vittorio De Sica, too - but that was roughly five decades ago. It's so nice to see someone approach film in that style in this day and age.
Because this is what you're REALLY here for, my MSPaint Review of Wendy and Lucy:
Go check it out. In the meantime, add her last film, Old Joy, to your queue.