Wendy and Lucy (2008)

19 06 2010

I remember when this was first getting a lot of attention about two years ago – it seemed destined to become a personal favorite at the time. Things change, though and if this blog’s activity is any indication, I’ve sort of been thrown “out of a loop” with movies ever since school started last August. Now, this sort of minimalism, while still very enjoyable to me, is not something I’m nearly as passionate about as before. A slow-moving movie about a girl and her dog should be the best thing ever (I’m a dog person, for the record) but this sort of comes up a little short. It’s really good and surprisingly tense to watch, but like Old Joy, it’s a little too uneventful for it’s own good. Maybe that’s a little unfair to say since the ending is really heartbreaking.

A lot of the film’s success is built around Michelle Williams. It’s been awhile since I’ve read the reviews for this, but I can recall being sort of upset by the constant influx of critics deducing that her introverted performance is somehow the result of her husband’s passing. It’s an easy connection to make and Williams deserves all the credit in the world for being able to dive into a role following such a tragedy. Still, it feels sort of cheap to downplay her role as something that just came out of real life, though at the same time, it makes complete sense.

If it isn’t obvious already, the movie has little, if any emphasis on plot. So I guess one could criticize it for dramatizing a matter like losing your dog, but that’s just a surface thing and as someone who likes dog, it’s not a matter to be taken lightly. There’s a tense feeling that fills every frame and even though Williams’ initial crying seems like a exaggerated response, it is also one that feels completely warranted. She hasn’t just lost her dog, she’s completely clueless as to who she’s going to get away from the tiny town she’s dug herself into and she’s lost her dog. That seems trivial to some (cat people, probably!) but the frustration, confusion, and panic that sets in during such an event is embodied perfectly in this movie. Even when it’s not about losing your dog, it manages to capture the feeling of one losing their dog. It’s a grey area, I’m sure, but the movie nails it.

On the other hand, the movie does suffer from being too uneventful at times, not because it’s too slow (no such thing?) but because it tries to present itself with more superficial “substance” than is really there. Basically that just means the film seems kind of aimless, bouncing around from one sequence to another. Some things are funny, but it seems kind of forced, and yet, I can’t help but feel that a little more humor would have done some good. Still, a very nice little movie. Short, but tragic in it’s own downplayed way.

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