Thursday, 4 June 2009

No. 148 : Wendy and Lucy




I’d have loved to have seen the original pitch for this movie. I guess it was ‘Woman loses dog and then finds it, the end' and the movie executive shouted ‘Solid gold!’. If that plot summary sounds simplistic it’s not really. The whole film takes place over a couple of days and hardly moves from a supermarket parking lot where it begins. Michelle Williams plays the titular Wendy a kind of oddball loner who is travelling to Alaska to get work at a fish cannery.

She stops overnight in Oregon and sleeps in her car with faithful pooch, Lucy. She's awoken by a security guard who wants her to move off but her car won’t start. This starts a series of events that try the patience of both Wendy and the viewer as she tries to keep body, soul, dog and car together. Her downfall is her own fault when she tries to secure a bit of five finger discount at the supermarket. A vigilant employee, who’s meant to come across as a dick but really isn’t, insists on handing her over to the cops.

The cops takes ages to process our light fingered heroine and by the time she gets back to the supermarket, where she left her dog, it has gone. The remainder of the film concerns the quest for the canine as Wendy gets frantic with worry for the fled fido. While the search is on her car is under the mechanic and it’s not looking good. Can the dog be found and will the car be fixed. Can we bear the suspense of these life changing questions?

This is a pretty decent slice of life that’s pretty inconsequential but an interesting insight all the same. We don’t get much back story to Wendy so her motivations aren’t that clear although we suspect something was afoot with the brother in law given her sister’s frosty reaction to her call. She’s not particularly likable with the shop lifting and general mooching all a bit of a turn off. She obviously cares for the dog but everyone else is just a means to an end.

It could be viewed as a fable for our troubled economic times but I thing that would be mining a subtext that isn’t really there. You could also see her as a modern day Blanche Dubois relying on the kindness of strangers. I was reasonably engaged by the film and keen for the inevitable reuniting scene, but as it approached the sense of a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ ending became overpowering and true to form it delivered.

I thought Michelle Williams was decent as the lead although I never really got the sense of desperation from her that her character seemed to be demanding. The rest of the cast were only bit parts although I did like the nicest car park guard in movie history.

Not a film to cheer you up or offer comfort at a time of belt tightening but as an exercise in ‘at least I’m better off than her’ it does a pretty good job.

Best Bit : Shopping the cheap way
‘W’ Rating 13/23

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