DVD Review: Certain Women

Lonely.

Director Kelly Reichardt tells three different stories about women living in Montana. Laura (Laura Dern) is a lawyer trying to assist a client (Jared Harris) who has been screwed over by his employer after an accident. Gina (Michelle Williams) is building a new home but struggles with her moody teenager daughter along the way* And a Rancher (Lily Gladstone) wanders into a class being taught by Elizabeth (Kristen Stewart) and becomes fascinated with her.  

The * is because even after thinking about this film for a while, I still don't understand the point of Michelle William's segment. Which brings me to how I felt about this movie as a whole. I felt like I was watching two good ideas that were never elaborated on, and one afterthought. Gina's story being the afterthought. Laura's had the potential for a lot of drama. Her client holds someone hostage at one point and she diffuses the situation. But The Rancher (no really, that's how she's credited) and Elizabeth's story was the most intriguing. Theirs was the one I didn't want to end. Yet, all of these vignettes went out with a whimper. 

It's a similar problem I have with Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff. It had a great cast but I felt like the story went nowhere. I didn't have that problem with her last feature, Night Moves, which I enjoyed immensely. Certain Women is ultimately a commentary on loneliness in every day life. It brings up the long debate on whether or not movies need some sort of climax that changes its trajectory. I know I made that complaint about Manchester by the Sea last year, but comparing the two, it was a flawed statement on my part. Manchester was far more interesting than this, even if "nothing" happened in the end on that one either. 
I guess I'm just disappointed. I wanted this story about women directed by a woman to have a bit more. There were good bones here, but I was left unsatisfied. I like to take my movies home with me most of the time. I like to think about how characters would move forward after the credits roll. But this film didn't give me enough to go off of, even in my imagination. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Do you know anyone around here that could teach this class? - Elizabeth (Kristen Stewart) 

16 comments:

  1. I had heard great things about it but I wasn't really a fan. In fact never finished it. Kept saying I would get back to it but can't find the motivation.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one. This film is sitting at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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  2. I do want to see this because of Kelly Reichardt as I've seen a few of her films and I like what she does. I'm still keeping low expectations for this film.

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    1. I think low expectations is the way to go. I had high ones. This and 20th Century Women were high on my watch list last year and 20th blew this one out of the water.

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  3. Ughhh, this sounds like a wet rag that you have to hold and not know where to put it. It also sounds like many irritating movies I watched from the 1970’s.

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    1. Oh man that makes sense. These were adapted short stories (which I should check out to see if they ended differently) I'm not sure what year they were written though.

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  4. yeah... i am just not a fan of Kelly R's work. I didn't like Meet's Cutoff either

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    1. That was a snooze, but Night Moves was awesome. I loved all three leads and the story in that.

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  5. I don't know what it is but if Williams isn't in a particularly gripping film one look at her and I fall asleep. I'd watch this one for Stewart, though

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    1. I really like Williams, but her role was pointless in this film.

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  6. Nice review! I tried to watch this movie a while ago, but never got passed Laura's part. I always meant to return to it, but the pace felt agonizingly slow and wouldn't go anywhere. I might go back for Kristen's part, but...probably not.

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    1. Honestly, Kristen's is even more frustrating because her story is really interesting and has such a nonending to it.

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  7. It sounds like something I wouldn't like.. and it's sad. I tend to dislike a lot of movies made by women, and it makes me feel like I'm somehow being a bad woman.

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    1. I know the feeling, I feel awful when I don't like something from a female director (for example I've never been on the Kathryn Bigelow bandwagon) but it happens.

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  8. I'm with you here. The Rancher segment was the only one that felt necessary to me. I didn't really care about the other two. Reichardt is obviously very minimalist, but this one was a bit too minimal for me.

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    1. "Too minimal" that's a good way to describe this film.

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