The Michelle Williams Tribute "Wendy and Lucy"

Film #1
"Wendy and Lucy"

Michelle Williams is an extremely talented actress who flies under the radar of most moviegoers.  While keeping a quiet public profile she does all of her talking on the big screen.  Although she was nominated this year for Best Actress in her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, Williams gravitates towards small independent films rather than Hollywood blockbusters.  My next three reviews will feature Ms. Williams in a few of her best roles.  First up is the 2008 film "Wendy and Lucy" directed by Kelly Reichardt.

Made on a shoestring budget in Oregon this film is an understated character study of a young woman and her dog as they head for a better life.  Their goal is Alaska and a lucrative job at a fish cannery.  The film is minimalist but high on emotional impact and feeling.  Wendy and her companion, a yellow lab mix named Lucy, currently live in their old Honda Accord.  After sleeping the night in a Walgreen's parking lot, a kind old security guard must have her move.  The car doesn't start and so begins a turning point not only in her trip but her life.  She tracks every cent she has in a journal and its getting pretty low.  A bad decision at a supermarket and a heartless ass kissing stock boy get Wendy in trouble with the law.  Lucy is left tied to a bike rack outside the market while Wendy is booked for petty theft.  A number of hours pass until Wendy is freed and fined $50.  She races back to Lucy but she is gone.  She finds little help with the indifferent locals and her dilemma only intensified.  The one bright spot is the security guard played by Wally Dalton, offering his cell phone and a kind ear. 

She makes her way to the pound but Lucy isn't there, just a bunch of other lost or abandoned dogs.  She has to pay to have her car towed to the repair shop which is only a block away.  The mechanic delivers some bad news, the car is dead.  Without her car, her sanctuary, she tries spending the night in the woods.  It's not long until she is freaked out and nearly attacked by another vagrant.  At the end of her rope, she calls her estranged sister and gets a big load of nothing.  I don't want to throw too many spoilers out there but after some painful choices, life must move on.

Wendy's struggle unfolds like a sort of documentary rather than a film.  There is no musical score and the filmmakers are committed to realism.  Michelle Williams IS Wendy as she completely commits to this role.  Many people agreed as she was nominated for a handful of awards.  The movie itself won the AFI Film of the Year Award.  "Wendy and Lucy" is available on Netflix watch instantly.

Up next: Meek's Cutoff.