Wendy and Lucy
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The times, they are tough. Unemployment’s way up, and the stock market’s way down. Companies are closing, and people are losing their homes. But just in case you’re not already depressed enough about the dismal economy, feel free to go out and pay ten bucks to see writer/director Kelly Reichardt’s low-budget indie, Wendy and Lucy. That should do the trick.

Michelle Williams stars as Wendy, a young woman who’s left her home in Muncie, Indiana to try to find work in Alaska. With her dog, Lucy, always at her side, Wendy lives out of her beat-up old car, paying for gas with what’s left of her meager savings and paying for food with the spare change she makes collecting soda cans.

Wendy manages to make it all the way to Oregon, but that’s where things start to fall apart—beginning with her car. Then, while she’s waiting to find out what’s wrong with her car, Wendy stops at a grocery store, where she’s caught shoplifting cookies and dog food. To make matters worse, when she’s finally released, she goes back to the grocery store to get Lucy—but she’s run away. So, with the help of a crusty Walgreens security guard (Wally Dalton), Wendy begins a desperate search for her only friend.

Wendy and Lucy isn’t a sweet, heartwarming story about a girl and her dog. It’s quiet and gloomy, and very little happens. Granted, Michelle Williams does an excellent job of portraying her character’s hopelessness without saying much at all—but that doesn’t really make Wendy and Lucy worth watching. It just means that she did a great job with the little she was given.

The film’s super-simple story offers very little for viewers to connect to. It’s pretty much a one-woman show—and we never really get to know anything about Wendy. We don’t know what she’s left behind in Muncie (except for a faceless sister who doesn’t seem to care about her at all), and we don’t know what she’s looking for in Alaska. She rarely interacts with other people—and, even when she does, she says as little as possible.

There isn’t much action, either. Most of the movie involves Wendy wandering around a small, run-down town looking for her dog. And while some may see that as sublime and beautiful, it was pretty dull and dreary to me. Though it’s a short, 80-minute movie, it seemed to drag on forever.

Perhaps, a decade or so from now, I’ll look back on Wendy and Lucy as a meaningful and accurate portrayal of the hopelessness that our country is currently feeling. But, right now, I know how hopeless things are. I’m reminded of it every time I turn on the TV or read the news. I don’t need a movie to remind me just a little bit more.

And, really, paying ten bucks to be reminded of how hopeless things are won’t help anything—so it might be best to save the money for your mortgage payment.

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