Directed by Kelly Reichardt
Kelly Reichardt’s quirky filmmaking always has this distinctive ability to keep us alert, even when the pace is unchangeable and the stories apparent to be lukewarm at the first sight.
Masterworks of the independent cinema like “Old Joy”, “Wendy and Lucy”, “Meek’s Cutoff”, and “Night Moves”, turned her into one of the most well-regarded filmmakers of our times.
“Certain Women”, is another realistic and profound drama that tells the story of four American women whose destinies come across. Its sturdy foundation comprises elements such as human sincerity, emotional sensitivity, and stunning frames whose powerful cinematography enhances the immaculate performances of Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Lily Gladstone, and Kristen Stewart.
For this work, Ms. Reichardt sought inspiration on short stories from Maile Meloy's collection “Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It”.
Set in Montana, all the stories in some way deal with loneliness, relationships, work, and limitation, exhibiting precious subtleties that stimulate our minds and spike our curiosity. It’s remarkable how the movie grabs our intellect without resorting to any action scene, agitated dialogue, or sudden events. This aspect results from intelligence in the approach and a winning confidence behind the camera.
During the first story, we find Laura Wells (Dern), a confident and independent lawyer who has been getting repeated visits from a disconsolate client, Fuller (Jared Harris), after he has lost his job. Facing the impossibility of suing his company, Fuller falls into a deeper emotional crisis when his wife decides to leave him. The anguish makes him confess his frightful intentions.
The second story follows a hard-working woman, Gina (Williams), who lives a solitary life in a secluded place, despite sharing her life with a lazy husband (James Le Gros) and a teen daughter. The couple decides to pay a visit to Albert (René Auberjonois), an elderly and lonely man, and persuade him to sell the sandstones on his property. The material would serve to build up their new house. Yet, Gina’s approach lacks honesty.
The third story tells us the struggle of Jamie (Gladstone), who works on a farm as a horse taker, to avoid isolation during wintertime. Unexpectedly, after following people into a classroom, she befriends with a law teacher, Elizabeth Travis (Stewart), another solitary soul looking for a better and more comfortable life.
“Certain Women” possesses a disconcerting exquisiteness when addressing the sadness associated with the lives of its characters. The silences intensify their emotional states and speak volumes, producing a bittersweet effect that remains for a long time after the final credits.
The sturdy hand of a magnificent film architect, who expresses herself with original sculpting techniques, shapes ordinary people with all their strengths and weaknesses. Ms. Reichardt’s cinema is more meditative than rousing, elusively beautiful in its conception, and constructed further beyond artistic superficiality.
I’m eagerly waiting for her next move.