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Review: Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Director: | 80 minutes | | Actors: , Lucy, David Koppell, , Sid Shanley, , , , Wally Dalton, Roger D. Faires, , , , , , Deneb Catalan , , , , Brenna Beardsley, Winfield Jackson, , Connor O’Shea

“Money doesn’t buy happiness”, is a well-known saying, and it is often jokingly said that it does help. What if you have so little money that you can no longer even provide for yourself and that of your mate? It is a thought that terrifies and in a period of economic crisis a less distant show than you would like. Unemployment is lurking around the corner for many people and this drastically reduces financial security.

The Wendy from the title of the movie is one of those people who has almost nothing left. In a twenty-year-old rusty Honda Accord, she travels from her sister in Indiana to Ketchikan, Alaska, in the uncertain hope of finding a job there. With a tight budget, it should just work, but Wendy has not considered the possibility that her car could fail. When she gets stranded in a small hamlet in Oregon, she decides on a whim to steal a can of dog food for her four-legged friend, the Lucy of the title. She is arrested by an overzealous supermarket employee and before she knows it she is in a police cell. The formalities there take much longer than expected and when she returns to the supermarket, Lucy is no longer tied to the bicycle rack. Wendy is desperate. Tired, alone and with little future perspective: could it be more depressing?

You wouldn’t think so, but “Wendy and Lucy” is above all a hopeful tale. Kelly Reichardt based the story for “Wendy and Lucy” on a short story by Jon Raymond and filmed it in a calm, realistic, minimalist style. With no frills and music – just the main character’s humming – this low-budget feels like you’re Wendy’s invisible secret passenger. This is certainly due to the convincing, natural acting of the lead actress. Michelle Williams, honored with an Independent Spirit Award, a TFCA Award and an OFCS Award for this achievement, plays Wendy in a sublime way. She is in practically every scene, and she knows how to make all the misery she experiences very tangible for the viewer. It is hard to imagine that another actress could have taken this film to a higher level in the same way. However, Reichardt is also a filmmaker to keep an eye on. Her feature debut “River of Gras” was already a modest success internationally, and with successor “Old Joy” she managed to win a Tiger Award, among other things. With ‘Wendy and Lucy’, the filmmaker manages to put his finger on the sore spot with little means: the contrast between consumerism and poverty, but also the vicious and discouraging circle of unemployment: no job without a job, no address without an address. job, no job, no address …

“Wendy and Lucy” is neo-realism at its best. Movie buffs who like a well-rounded story, where all the motifs and backgrounds of the main characters are neatly filled in for them, may not appreciate “Wendy and Lucy”. Wendy largely remains a mystery. What her relationship with her sister is, why she’s leaving for Alaska, it remains below the surface. But that is not the point at all; it is the here and now that Reichardt focuses on with her small-scale drama and that is where she excels. It is also good to imagine that the film is labeled as boring; after all, little else happens other than Wendy looking for Lucy, talk to the nearly elderly security officer (Wally Dalton) who tries to help her in his humble way, walks, sleeps, tries to fix her car and washes in the toilet of the gas station . Dialogues are sparse, Wendy talks to Lucy most of the time, and the fact that she’s been missing much of the movie speaks volumes. Nevertheless, the film manages to captivate the entire playing time and to touch the viewer’s heart. Small film, great director, even bigger actress.

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