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With: Michelle Williams, Will Patton, Will Oldham, John Robinson, Wally Dalton, Larry Fessenden
Written by: Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 80
Date: 05/22/2008

Wendy and Lucy (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dog Days

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director Kelly Reichardt, whose Old Joy was one of the most refreshing films of 2006, returns using much the same style, but also with a bigger budget and enough clout to hire Oscar nominee Michelle Williams for her lead. She plays Wendy, a road-weary nomad making her way to Alaska for a job. She wears the most atrocious clothing imaginable, probably sending her Hollywood dressers into a tizzy: a shapeless blue hoodie, shapeless black shorts, horrible little shoes and an unflattering brown, bob-like haircut. She pretty much lives out of her car, with her constant canine companion, Lucy. When she reaches Oregon, her car breaks down. She tries to shoplift some dog food, gets caught, and Lucy disappears. She spends the rest of the film trying to get her car fixed and find Lucy. It doesn't sound like much, but Reichardt and co-writer Jonathan Raymond create a loose universe in which the characters actually seem to be moving through time, waiting, making decisions, cursing fate, eating, sleeping and waiting some more. It's a fascinating tapestry, filled with its own desperate, dreary, patchwork poetry. The creepy actor/director Larry Fessenden plays a scary homeless guy who stumbles upon Wendy in the woods. But Williams is the key, bringing her deep worlds of sadness to a role without much dialogue (I think she's what they call an "old soul"). Wendy and Lucy certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's a rewarding and moving experience for the brave few who are willing to give it a try. (And it's only 80 minutes!)

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