Female Filmmaker Friday: Wendy and Lucy (2008)
I have been contemplating what to review for Female Filmmaker Friday for the month of June. Yesterday I saw the light and found out that Kelly Reichardt’s work is currently on FilmStruck. That was it, the lightning struck, I then knew what had to be written about. Wendy and Lucy is what deserves a multitude of praise.
I was introduced to Kelly Reichardt’s films through my friend, Sydney. She kept telling me to watch her work and that I would enjoy it. However, I did not think I would fall head over heels with her filmography like I currently have. Wendy and Lucy is the film that hits the most for me. Working as a veterinarian, every day I hear an array of stories from various dog owners. These stories range from new puppies, to sick dogs, to the unfortunate call of scheduling their pet to be put to sleep. In the end what really matters and what shows, is the love that an owner has for their furry best friend. They will do anything it takes to make sure their beloved pet is safe, healthy, and in ease of any pain they might be in.
Wendy and Lucy displays canine loyalty in the most unfortunate of situations. Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams) is currently travelling to Alaska to find work with her dog Lucy (Reichardt’s own dog). Already scraping together the bare minimum of what she has financially, Wendy is stuck in a small town in Oregon hitting every roadblock imaginable. Her car stops working, she gets caught stealing from a local grocery store, gets arrested for a short time, loses her dog to a local pound, gets berated by a man in the woods (Larry Fessenden), and ultimately has to make the single most difficult decision of her life. She is isolated in a town she’s never been in before and only have the familiarity of love and family through her dog. She only barely becomes friends with a security guard when her dog isn’t in her possession. Just when you think things may be on on the up and up, her gleaming second of positivity is quickly stripped away leaving Wendy in more untimely predicaments.
What Reichardt does with this film is outstanding. You don’t know much about Wendy’s previous life, but you end up feeling like you know everything about her and her current situation while watching. The emotional value is apparent and you feel for her while your heart aches seeing each passing bump in the road. She deserves so much. Wendy is a determined and ambitious woman. She isn’t asking for much and what she does get, she is very humble about. All of this shows. Even though life isn’t kind to Wendy in the least, you have to admire the kind of woman she is. Wendy and Lucy is fairly and plotless film, but more of a character study of a time in one's life when they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
It was fascinating to see that director Todd Haynes was an Executive Producer. Not only that, but Larry Fessenden is a Producer on the film as well. I knew Kelly and Larry were friends, as their friendship traces back many years, but I had no idea that Haynes was attached to this project and knew of Reichardt. Other Reichardt alums, Will Oldham and Will Patton, also make appearances. Wendy and Lucy fascinates me in every way possible, from in front of the screen and behind the screen. This is one of my favorite low budget films that packs a lot of heat. I have seen Wendy and Lucy multiple times now and every single time my eyes well up and tears stream down my face when it nears its gut-wrenching end. This is quite possibly my favorite Michelle Williams performance. It feels extremely genuine and that she really dug into her character. To say this is highly recommended would be an understatement.
Kelly Reichardt has an absolutely amazing filmography. Thankfully you can currently find a few of her films on FilmStruck. You will not be disappointed in your choice if you decide to watch some of her films.