Magazine article The Christian Century

Wendy and Lucy

Magazine article The Christian Century

Wendy and Lucy

Article excerpt

Wendy and Lucy.

Directed by Kelly Reichardt.

Starring Hichelle Williams,

Will Patton and Wally Dalton.

Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams) is a homeless woman driving cross-country with her dog, Lucy, and sleeping in her car at night to save money and stay warm. One morning, her car won't start. Her funds are limited, and she finds herself at the mercy of the local mechanic (Will Patton). She panics and shoplifts some dog food. She is caught and arrested. While she is paying the fine, Lucy disappears.

So begins the emotional sojourn that constitutes a small but moving film directed by Kelly Reichardt and co-written by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond. We learn that Wendy is from Indiana, where her unsympathetic sister lives, and that she is on her way to Alaska, where she hopes to find goodpaying work at a cannery. Beyond those details, she appears to be just one of the many faceless homeless people who sleep where they can, use gas stations' bathrooms to wash and dress, and try to maintain their dignity despite the sneers and stares of those around them.

Wendy and Lucy doesn't rely on plot to drive the tale forward. In fact, not much happens in the movie. In that respect, it is reminiscent of the great 1983 film Tender Mercies. We keep waiting for romance, violence of tragedy to emerge, but instead we are left with a series of quiet moments, many of them displayed on Wendy's face as she makes difficult decisions for herself and her dog. The beauty of the film lies in the glimpses it gives of the various reactions Wendy provokes during her brief stay in town.


When she is busted for shoplifting by an overzealous young stock clerk, for instance, it is clear that the owner of the store would like to give her a break, but he doesn't want to appear weak in front of his self-righteous employee. …

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