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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wendy and Lucy

(Guest Review by Russ)

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: While some might describe this as the sobering account of a young woman’s life, as misfortune and bad luck conspire to leave her destitute, I would describe it as the Michelle Williams-loses-her-dog movie.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Michelle Williams, Will Patton, Lucy the Dog, Wally Dalton, Larry Fessenden, Ayanna Berkshire, Will Oldham

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketStop! This is sort of an ‘anti-movie.’ It has no plot to speak of, no character arcs, and no real conclusion. It truly is 80 minutes of watching Wendy (Michelle Williams) look for her lost dog (Lucy) in some depressing Oregon blue-collar town where pretty much nothing else happens. I’d be willing to bet that Michelle Williams’ home movies have more dramatic thrust than this collection of images and sounds. And higher production values as well.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: No. But after the movie was over, we laughed a lot at our friend Brian’s impersonation of Wendy looking for her dog. He just put his hoodie up and wandered around calling out: “Lucy!... Lew!... Lucy!” I counted even a few strangers laughing. They, too, had clearly seen the film.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: Yes. It will make you weep for the current state of indie films. Because when boring, pointless pieces of of film like this are not only getting made, but also getting released, it kind of justifies why most of the independent film making companies closed up shop last year. Independent film is dying. But if this is what passes for independent film, maybe it deserves to die.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: It has already won Best Film and Best Actress (Michelle Williams) from the Toronto Film Critics Association. It’s nominated in the same categories for the Spirit Awards. After seeing it, I can honestly say that Canadians have no taste and filmmakers should be insulted if they get nominated for a Spirit Award.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: Thanks to filmmaker Todd Haynes, a mutual friend of the director and Michelle Williams, all parties were able to convince her to sign on-- proving once again that old Hollywood adage: it’s not what you know, but who you know. I can’t think of a single good reason why Williams would do this project, unless she was craving an award from the Toronto Film Critics and had a psychic premonition that they’d vote her the winner. I mean, she’s fine, but like I’ve said before, in my review of Deception, she deserves much better parts. Anyway, to talk about acting in an anti-movie is like answering a question about editing while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos: oxymoronic.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: This anti-movie at least adheres to a few well-worn rules when making a low-budget indie that’s meant to be depressing: open on an overcast day as a train moves through a rail yard. Check. Now move to a meandering overly-long tracking shot of the star in which you can’t really make out that it’s the star. Check. Cover that with someone humming a pointless tune and we’ll go ahead and pretend that’s the score. Check. I’m beginning to wonder if there was even a director behind the camera because it all seemed like a collection of security-camera images that caught Michelle Williams roaming around Oregon looking for her dog in real time for 80 minutes. Are you still reading this?

Q: How is the story/script?

A: There is none. There were opportunities for dramatic story-telling set forth, but each of them was promptly avoided like the plague. Wendy could have gone off the rails and gotten angry, or confronted someone a number of times, but the writers simply defused each dramatic opportunity with a character who doesn't stand up for herself. This anti-movie is supposed to be a mediation on our times and economy. How responsible are we for each other? What is the American Dream in 2009, and does it still really exist? Those are truly interesting themes. None of which have any resonance in Wendy and Lucy. I did feel for Wendy – probably because of Michele Williams. But the character is pretty much an idiot.

Q: Is there anything else worth mentioning about the movie?

A: Did I mention that this is not a movie?

Q: Where can I see the trailer?


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