Wendy and Lucy, 2008 (52 Films by Women #1)

As I mentioned in my last post, I signed a pledge to watch 52 films by women in a year. That’s only one film per week, so I’m pretty confident I’ll make it. I’m aiming to write about each of them here, too, but we’ll see! So far I’ve watched 3, the first being Wendy and Lucy directed by Kelly Reichardt and starring Michelle Williams (and Lucy the Dog).


I’d already seen Meek’s Cutoff, which I love, so was looking forward to delving into Reichardt’s other work. While I wasn’t at all disappointed with Wendy and Lucy, it didn’t quite have the emotional impact for me that I thought it would. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. In this case, I was expecting many tears but we don’t always have to display emotion outwardly to find a film moving.

Wendy and Lucy 02

Michelle Williams is great as Wendy. There’s a quiet desperation in her character that it was impossible not to empathise with. You see the small amount of hope she had slowly fade over the course of the film, a weary resignation overtaking her (or maybe it was already there). I think there is still a little hope left in her at the end, but it’s easy to see she’s been worn down.

I will always feel immensely for people living in poverty (hey, I’m one of them, just to a different degree), more than other characters, but I don’t know how you couldn’t feel for Wendy. And if you’re a dog person, which I am not, I suspect you’d find it even more moving.

wendy-and-lucy-02The one scene that will definitely stay with me is at the supermarket when the young clerk, having apprehended Wendy for shoplifting, tells her people shouldn’t have dogs if they can’t afford to buy them food. One, did he stop to think that maybe she got the dog when she had money to feed her? Two, it is a perfect example of the way people who have money, who don’t struggle, put all the blame on those who don’t. It’s their fault for being poor, they shouldn’t have ‘luxuries’, etc. It’s a way of thinking that leaves no room for empathy and often leads to people like Wendy being put in worse situations (as does happen to her). (I suppose if you’re one of these people then you wouldn’t feel for Wendy as I assumed everyone would).

wendy_and_lucy07It’s beautifully filmed with cinematography by Sam Levy, who was also the DOP for Frances Ha, which is just as beautiful to look at.

I really love the atmosphere of Reichardt’s films (I’ve only seen 2 but, despite their different settings, there’s a similar feel) – there’s a stillness in them, a quiet which lets you focus on the characters.

All in all, Wendy and Lucy is a touching film with a moving performance by Michelle Williams. It was a great way to kick off my 52 films by women! I’m looking forward to more of Reichardt’s work as well as the rest of the films this pledge will lead me to.

Are you a fan of Reichardt’s work? And will you be pledging to watch 52 films by women, too?


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