Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Wendy and Lucy (2008) – Poverty blows. That’s not really revelatory. Everyone knows that. I think, though, that everyone knows that in the abstract. The specifics of it are lost on most of us who, even if we aren’t part of the 1% and have troubles of our own, live in relative comfort and ease. Wendy and Lucy is a story of a woman and her dog. Wendy (three-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams) is on her way to Alaska to find work. She’s kind a drifter, sleeping in her car. She is accompanied by her dog Lucy. She’s passing through a town in Oregon, when hardships start. First, her car won’t start so she’s stuck. Then she gets busted for shoplifting. Then, most heartbreakingly, she loses Lucy. The main action of the movie is her trying to find her lost dog, the only friend she has. Whenever I’ve seen a homeless person with a dog, I’ve always felt great pity for the dog (realistically I know I should pity the person too, but for some reason empathy hits me harder with animals). A character in the movie flat out says to Wendy at one point “if you can’t afford dog food, you shouldn’t have a dog,” and that makes a certain logical sense, but it’s not that simple. Anyone who’s had a dog knows that bond and how hard it would be to give it up. Anyway, needless to say this movie is depressing as all hell. It’s very well-acted by Williams (no surprise there) and I do like the deliberate pacing. Director Kelly Reichardt’s film plays like a slice of life, but a side of life most of us thankfully don’t have to live. This movie came out in 2008, during the financial crisis that plunged a whole lot of people into situations like Wendy’s. The movie falls short of any greatness as it never makes any profound statements beyond “life sure is hard for the poor,” but if you don’t mind a movie that is seriously disheartening it is worth seeing for Williams’s performance.

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