Wendy and Lucy
Director: Kelly Reichardt

A lost dog makes for deeply felt drama in Wendy and Lucy, a film of inner turmoil painted on a minimalist’s canvas.

The plot of director Kelly Reichardt’s film, which she co-wrote with Jon Raymond (whose story Train Choir lit the spark), could be reduced to two lines: Woman loses dog. Woman searches for dog.

Around these mundane events, though, are a series of frustrating setbacks that help illuminate the reasons for the perpetually downtrodden expression of Indiana drifter Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams).

Driving a wheezing 1988 Honda, she arrives in a small Oregon town with her dog Lucy, a yellow-gold retriever mix that is her only companion. The two are on the road to Alaska, where Wendy hopes to land a job in a fish cannery, earning enough money for them to start a new life. It’s hard to imagine things could get worse for Wendy, but hard knocks keep finding her.

Wendy and Lucy is a study in contained emotion. The acting and lighting are flat, and the soundtrack is unadorned by music that could tug the heartstrings.

The victories and insights gained in this minimalist drama are hard-won and small in stature, but they linger on the mind.

Extras are few. Reichardt doesn’t do commentary tracks. In her quirky manner, however, she does offer four experimental shorts by like-minded filmmakers.

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