A woman's life is derailed en route to a potentially lucrative summer job. When her car breaks down, and her dog is taken to the pound, the thin fabric of her financial situation comes apart, and she is led through a series of increasingly dire economic decisions.
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At The Movies
Wendy and Lucy (PG) * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Dogs are in. Only that can explain the release in what seems every other month where a dog is a central character in a major Hollywood movie. Independent filmmakers are now cashing in on that trend with Wendy and Lucy, a telling tale of a woman and her pooch from Mongrel Media now winning hearts over at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking).
Life can be tough. Sad stories abound concerning people who slip through the cracks. About all a young woman riding has to be happy about is the back pack on her shoulders, a dour-looking, malfunctioning car and a loveable dog. Wendy seems to be at her ropes end and gets by with very little. Consider her existence at the margins. Smiles on her face our few and far between. All alone in what looks exceedingly like a harsh world Wendy makes one fateful mistake that ends up compounding an already unfortunate situation.
Worse yet, somehow that loving dog gets tied up in WendyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s downturn. People on the edge become desperate and Wendy and Lucy is almost a case study in how otherwise decent people can get disheartened and taken advantage of, with apparent no one to help.
Already critics are calling Michelle WilliamsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ portrayal of the street tough girl the potential of Oscars. Ms. Williams first rose to prominence in the Ang Lee triumphant Brokeback Mountain, opposite Jake Gylenhaal and the late great Heath Ledger. Here her performance is very controlled and you can sense the anger hovering just below the surface.
Love for an animal is a clear highlight of this film that despite its short 80 minute length packs quite the emotional punch. Good Samaritans are few and far between and brushes with various Ã¢â‚¬Å“undesirablesÃ¢â‚¬Â helps heighten the tension in this high stakes drama. Director and co-writer Kelly Reichardt succeeds in presenting a simple situation and tracking the disintegration of a human being, though there may possible be some face saving salvation near filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end.
Good cameo performances by the likes of Will Patton (The Punisher) as a mechanic and Wally Dalton as a security guard make Wendy and Lucy a good story about the need for companionship and the pains of separation, whether they involve humans and pets or just a societal disconnect.
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