Review: Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Wendy and Lucy

Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Michelle Williams, Lucy the Dog, Walter Dalton

When car trouble brings a cross-country trip en route to Alaska to a screeching halt, young Wendy and canine companion Lucy must cope with their prolonged financial woes in order to find a way to get things back on track. To make matters even worse, Wendy soon becomes separated from her beloved pet and begins to frantically search for her, all whilst receiving a helping hand from a security guard at the local pharmacy. What ensues is essentially a tale of social and financial hardship, more specifically by way of crippling loneliness and the true importance of companionship in times of need.

Much like 2007’s Into the Wild, this film’s central focus is also shaped by one individual’s journey to pursue a new life within the borders of America’s 49th state, with the exception of protagonist Wendy’s obvious adherence to her financial well-being. This disparity aside, the two do indeed share some of the same qualities, namely naivety and how it drastically alters the circumstances of the main characters somewhere down the road. In Wendy’s case, she obviously felt that her 1988 Honda Accord could handle the several thousand mile trek with little to no complications, thus resulting in a lack of monetary provisions for any car trouble she might (and will) come across. It’s because of this sort of ignorance, regardless of the character’s good intentions, that I had a hard time enjoying Into the Wild. Wendy and Lucy on the other hand very successfully manages to replace my feelings of dislike with undying sympathy for Wendy and the inevitable worsening of her situation, and for that, I blame Reichardt’s terrific direction and some solid writing to boot.

Wendy and Lucy also possesses a pretty great minimalist quality in this regard, allowing me to effectively place myself in Wendy’s shoes whenever she finds herself in yet another predicament. In the long run, it’s because of this that I had a hard time sympathizing with her plight at several points throughout the film’s duration, even if it does come off as being a little unfair on my part. Luckily, the efforts of Michelle Williams manage to more than compensate for a majority of the minor qualms I had with the film’s pacing and the events that took place, seeing as how her portrayal of Wendy is heartbreakingly genuine to the point where her first leading role is one of the best I’ve witnessed.

On an end note, Wendy and Lucy is a pretty fantastic look at loss, loneliness,  and what can potentially come of a life plagued by financial hardship; more so illustrated within one of the film’s more poignant sequences featuring Wendy’s run-in with a crazed homeless man in the woods following the loss of her car. It also features a subtle, very admirable directorial touch, an excellent performance from the always impressive Williams, and a simple yet ultimately rewarding screenplay; parts of which I didn’t wholly agree with, but in the end, it most definitely didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film as a whole.

Rating: 8/10


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