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Wendy and Lucy (DVD Review)

30 Apr, 2009 By: Billy Gil

Wnedy and Lucy

Street 5/5/09
Box Office $0.8 million
$29.99 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for language.
Stars Michelle Williams, Will Patton, Larry Fessenden, Will Oldham, Walter Dalton, John Robinson.

Kelly Reichert’s Wendy and Lucy is an austere wonder of a film, an antidote to the verbose, shock-value studio flicks that now try to pass as an independent film.

Wendy (Michelle Williams) is a drifter. With her dog, Lucy, in tow, her dream is to head to Alaska, where “they need people,” as she says.

The people Wendy meets along the way have little to offer, running the gamut from other aimless wanderers, to kindly old strangers, to conniving mechanics and misguided souls trying to do their best. Wendy and Lucy seem oddly at home in such surroundings — they’re lonesome figures with a tangible purity, wanting little more than to survive and be needed.

Williams couldn’t be more perfect; this consistently amazing actress surprises by underplaying Wendy but still finding the survivor trapped underneath all the ennui.

The biggest credit should go to Reichert for making the film work with few actors and seemingly fewer actions. Although it will be slow for some viewers, many independent and foreign-film fans will find it to be a memorable experience, akin to Agnès Varda’s 1985 film Vagabond.

Reichert also curated avant-garde short films by her colleagues at Bard College that appear on this DVD as a unique bonus feature. They mostly feel like they belong better in a contemporary art space than on a disc, although Jacqueline Goss’s animated How to Fix the World, based on studies of how the introduction of literacy affected the thought patterns of Central Asian peasants, is humorous and fascinating in its own right.

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