Delayed Reaction: ‘Wendy and Lucy’

Promotional image, 2008

I finally watched Wendy and Lucy (2008), the festival darling about a young woman (Michelle Williams) who’s making her way to Alaska with her dog (the Lucy of the pair) in hopes of starting anew. Directed by indie director Kelly Reichardt, the film feels like a drama made by and for hipsters. It’s methodically slow-paced; and though there are obstacles once Wendy becomes stranded in the middle of Oregon, the movie is ultimately uneventful.

Critics and audiences seem to have mixed reviews of this quiet independent film, which traveled the film festival circuit until it landed in theaters as a limited release. Apparently, you either think it’s subtly brilliant or overrated.

My thoughts? I’m leaning more towards the “overrated” category of opinion. I’m not sure, but maybe you really have to love dogs in order to become enthralled with this storyline – which is really just about Wendy trying to recover her missing pet in Oregon.

There are undertones of American poverty and homeless or nomadic youth, but they don’t seem to come through enough to the point where you can call it “powerful.” Williams’ acting comes off as a forced calm or lethargy. The plot is simple, which could work in its favor, but it really dragged on for me.

Overall, I just couldn’t get into the film. I admire its delicacy in its simplicity, but it wasn’t executed in a way that was engrossing or interesting for me.

And it’s an unfair comparison, but I’m going to have to do it: Wendy and Lucy was no Umberto D.

2 thoughts on “Delayed Reaction: ‘Wendy and Lucy’

  1. I was also underwhelmed by this movie. It’s slow and depressing. And a hipster-cliche. It really smacks of that “new face of homelessness” thing where attractive white fully-abled young adults make suffering look cool. Not that attractive white fully-abled young adults don’t suffer, but they don’t make up the majority of the homeless, and homelessness is never cool.

    Maybe me being a cat person prevented my ability to really empathize with the lost dog thing, but mostly I found myself thinking “this woman is an irresponsible dog owner – of course that dog got lost!”

    • Excellent point! Yes, that must have been exactly what I was irked by – the hipster, white fully-abled young adults homelessness thing.

      Also, I am more of a cat person than a dog person. I was also pretty deprived of pets growing up, and am unfortunately allergic to cats so I don’t own one right now. So yeah, the dog plotline was hard for me to care about…but in movies like the Italian classic Umberto D., I really felt for the man and his dog! That was a much different kind of film though.

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