Wendy [Michelle Williams] is driving to Alaska with her dog Lucy, in the hopes of finding a job there. Unfortunately, in a small town in Oregon, her car breaks down, her dog goes missing and she loses more and more of the little money she has left.
It’s a slow movie and incredibly depressing in its inevitability. The low budget it had is noticeable, but that fits the story pretty well. I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed by Michelle Williams though.
Michelle Williams is a great supporting actress, but in my opinion she had real difficulties carrying this movie – which basically has her in every frame. With the exceptions of a few scenes, she goes around like she’s on Xanax and there doesn’t seem to be anything going on inside her.
I don’t know if the character was written that way, or if they went for subtlety and/or desperation and failed, but in any case, except for some scenes where there is strong emotion), I felt like Wendy didn’t register or feel anything anymore.
I’m a little torn on that point because I can imagine that Reichardt was going for that completely “no energy to even care anymore feeling”, but it just felt off. [For example, in the scene where Wendy sleeps in the woods and this guy comes by and goes through her stuff and then just talks at her - I was seriously frightened, but Wendy didn't seem to be - it just felt like Michelle Williams was trying to make Wendy seem frightened, but completely apathetic at the same time.]
But even though I had this problem I have to applaud Reichardt because she still managed to make an amazingly touching movie that makes us feel with the protagonist, that shows her mistakes and her “bad” sides without ever judging her. I just thought that the film was very honest.
And of course, I had to cry at the end, when Wendy leaves Lucy behind.
So, I’d recommend watching it, maybe my main criticism about Wendy’s apparent lack of emotions is just my own hang-up.