Caution: Painfully Poignant Performance Ahead

Kelly Reichardt’s Somber Screenplay, “Wendy and Lucy” (2008) Film Review

A woman in a blue jacket stands amidst trees.
Photo credit: Sam Levy

A modern day road film, “Wendy And Lucy” starring Michelle Williams as the titular Wendy, relays the sad and difficult message that life is rough and unfair at times but the goal is to survive and keep it pushin’. Reichardt delivers another stunning picture and Williams another honest and poignant performance. I’m always pretty weary of films featuring animals — they’re either the cheesy “Airbud”-esque movies that I just can’t get into (I’m sorry) or they’re incredibly sad. Full disclosure this is a sad film but not in the way you might be expecting. It’s honest and raw and it hurts… it hurts to watch. I don’t think there was one moment throughout this film where I was comfortable or complacent. Despite that, these kinds of films are my favorite. I’ve probably said it a thousand times, but give me raw and real — something I can feel. These are impactful films that are far more relatable than say “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”…

A woman in a blue jacket plays fetch with her dog.
Photo credit: Sam Levy

I went to a creative and performing arts high school, the kind you have to audition to get into, the kind that doesn’t have a football team, the kind where the musical theatre kids are the popular ones. My focus was theatre. I dreamed of becoming an independent film actress, not famous, just consistently churning out quality films that I could be proud of and always left the viewers with a curious take away. My junior year, my mother passed away. Devastated, I poured myself into acting despite some road bumps along the way. I was able to deliver some of the best performances — at a high school level — my senior year. From a monologue playing Reverend Al Sharpton discussing his relationship with James Brown — to serial killer, Debbie Jellinsky’s execution monologue in “The Addams Family Values” — I was churning out memorable act after act. I attribute this boost in performance to channeling all of the hurt, grief, anger, and melancholy my 17 year old self was trying hard to navigate after such a traumatic loss. The best actors, in my opinion, are the ones that know pain. Now, I’m in no way comparing my small high school performances to the likes of Michelle Williams, but I do think throwing myself into the roles I did my senior year as a coping mechanism, really enhanced the emotion I was able to cast over my audience. This is my very roundabout way of saying I think one of the things that makes Michelle William such a standout performer is the loss of her daughter’s father years ago. How incredibly difficult that must be as a mother to raise your young daughter out of the spotlight as much as possible but on top of that without their father? Maybe I feel on par with her since we lost our loved ones in a similar manner. Of course actors are people just like us and experience loss everyday. Just something to ponder when you watch a film with an extraordinary player.

Segway over. Back to the film review.

A woman kisses her dog through a fence.
Photo credit: Sam Levy

Wendy and her pup, Lucy, are headed across the country in a busted old car for better times in Alaska. Funds are dwindling and they’ve still got halfway to go so the pressure begins to build. Events unfold one after the other that push further stress onto the film and its characters, in addition to the viewers. We’ve all been in a place — if you’re lucky only once — where things don’t seem to let up. You’re in a stressful situation where things begin to pile on oftentimes leading to an eruption rather than a calm conclusion. Williams, we know, is a stellar actor who certainly didn’t disappoint. Every emotion she felt as her character, we felt. She stays levelheaded but a quite rumble starts to form until she’s faced with one of the most difficult decisions she’s ever had to make. The film is heartbreaking plain and simple. I’d advise watching because it’s a wonderfully done film but also if you’re in need of a good somber cry. I’m hesitant to reveal much as it’s a pretty straightforward film and one I’m hoping you actually take the time to seek out and view since it’s that good. New York Times even added it to their list of best films in the 21st century (so far).

This is an Oscilloscope Laboratories film, naturally. They distribute the best films in the world so don’t be surprised if you catch me reviewing their films consistently. At the time of this publication, Oscilloscope has a 50% off cyber sale so get your beanies, get your amazing films, get your rolling papers, get your lab coats all for half off. Again, never sponsored, just a big time Oscilloscope fan. I dropped the trailer to “Wendy and Lucy” below and it looks to be streaming for free via Tubi right now. Tubi does yield a ton of commercials throughout their free films, but I kinda like it. Reminds me of when I was a kid. As always, if you end up watching “Wendy and Lucy”, please drop me a note! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Are you a fan of the wide open and lonely feelings road films emote? Read my very first film review on Wim Wenders’ Road Movie Trilogy, here.

A woman plays fetch with her dog.
Photo credit: Sam Levy

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Aliya Nicole Al-Balooshi

Aliya Nicole Al-Balooshi

Bahraini/Baloch Audience & Revenue Strategist II, Community a la Camber Creative + independent film fan with a casual writing style & a pocket full of thoughts.