Wendy (Michelle Williams), a near-penniless drifter, is traveling to Alaska in search of work, and her only companion is her dog, Lucy. Already perilously close to losing everything, Wendy hits a bigger bump in the road when her old car breaks down and she is arrested for shoplifting dog food. When she posts bail and returns to retrieve Lucy, she finds that the dog is gone, prompting a frantic search for her pet.
Yesterday morning, I watched Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy for the first time and was absolutely in love with how beautifully meditative and relaxing the film was. It was an extraordinarily simple movie that followed two friends who go on a camping trip and return home. Nothing of drama or conflict happened anywhere throughout which will definitely disappoint many viewers, but I found the film to be immensely peaceful and calming.
That’s why I was quite eager to check out Reichardt’s 2008 film Wendy and Lucy. I had heard similar things about this movie although I heard that were some dramatic elements to the film and many people prefer this to Old Joy. After watching it for the first time, I can’t say I personally liked it better than Old Joy but it is most definitely yet another amazing film from Reichardt.
She has a knack for making movies that are so incredibly simple put are so engrossing at the exact same time. On paper, Wendy and Lucy sounds like it could be a rather boring journey, but it’s made hugely interesting thanks to the performances and overall nature of what happens throughout Wendy’s search for her missing dog Lucy.
Many of us have had pets growing up or have pets right now. I never owned a pet but I did take care of dogs when I was about nine years old and I had an absolute blast doing so. One time, I looked after a dog named Chucky and, although I only looked after him for about five days, I became attached to him. I really didn’t want to have to give him back but I knew that I would have to. I couldn’t imagine how painful it must be to own a dog and take care of them for years, only for them to go missing. Your heart would shatter into millions of pieces and you would want to do everything you could to find them. Wendy and Lucy showcases this in a touching and emotionally raw way.
Absolutely nothing about Reichardt’s film feels faked or unbelievable. It’s a simple story of a homeless woman who only has one thing in her life – her dog Lucy. When Lucy goes missing, Wendy stops at nothing to find her and get her back. Seeing her struggles to get her beloved pet back was heartbreaking. As every scene passes, you feel more and more hopeless and you genuinely start to worry about not just Lucy, but Wendy as well. Wendy’s mental health starts to drastically deteriorate during her search and it can be a little bit tough to watch at times.
Michelle Williams’ performance as the titular Wendy is remarkably quiet but emotionally powerful. She feels like an actual person that could be living in the real world right now. Every single line of dialogue that Williams speaks feels so natural and unscripted. Sometimes we can tell exactly what Wendy is going through just by looking at her facial expressions and it’s a huge testament to Williams’ amazing acting talents.
It’s truly hard to fault a movie so engaging and emotionally moving as Wendy and Lucy. Sure it’s not too long and it feels like it’s over a bit too fast, but it still manages to be an interesting, beautifully acted and well-shot movie with a touching and poignant story at its core.
Wendy and Lucy is a touching and poignant story of a homeless woman’s search for her missing dog. Its terrific lead performance from Michelle Williams and emotional plot make this drama truly stand out.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: R for language
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Distributed by: Oscilloscope Pictures
Release Date: December 10, 2008
Running Time: 80 minutes