Saturday, March 07, 2009

"Wendy and Lucy"

"Wendy and Lucy" is the antithesis of contrived Disney inspired dog flicks. Presented in stark realism, the film shows the strong bond between a girl and her dog. Michelle Williams, with her chopped off short hair and bandaged ankle, gives an understated and honest portrayal of a girl forced to survive on the fringes of society. Wendy's dog Lucy is her only family. Wendy relies on Lucy for a sense of security and companionship as she travels to a fish cannery job in Alaska and sleeps in her car at night. Wendy has budgeted barely enough money to get them there - baring no unforeseen emergencies. She is woken up early one morning by an elderly security guard (Wally Dalton) who insists that she move her car from her illegal parking space. When the car won't start, he helps her push it out onto the street. She is stranded in a town with no job opportunities and a hungry dog. Desperate, she shoplifts some dog food. This sets in motion a series of events that separate her from Lucy.

Director Kelly Reichardt 
It is heart wrenching to watch Wendy's terror when she discovers her only friend is gone and her desperate search to find her. Her only help comes from the elderly security guard who watches powerlessly from his post as her car is towed away leaving her homeless and vulnerable. He lets her use his cell phone as a contact number in case someone calls about her dog. Director Kelly Reichardt takes her time building the tension and it is palatable. In this deceptively simple story, there are plenty of silences and time to reflect on how fragile our own security and stability are in our current economic situation. The security guard finally gives her what little money he can spare. Six dollars. Enough to have paid for some doggie biscuits.

It is touching to watch Wendy's devotion to her dog and the hard lesson she learns about the responsibility of having a pet. This is just the kind of small, intimate film that Reel Inspiration tries to help with our grassroots promotions. Please, consider seeing it on opening weekend or at least while it is in the first run theaters. If you are as moved as I was, please, forward this review onto your film loving friends.

Movie Blessings!
Jana Segal