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Certain Women Review

11 Oct

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Kelly Reichardt’s new film is minimalist by design. Although it features several events that other filmmakers would squeeze every last bit of drama out of, it also features a script that is willing to just quietly observe. All we get are three short stories, loosely connected on plot and thematic levels and devoid of the elaborate intertwining that consumes other stories. It’s refreshing to see a film remain compelling without reliance on some grand ending statement, and though it runs into a few problems in a middling middle section, the final section is a gorgeous way to close it all out. It’s the strongest of the three by far, and Kristen Stewart and Lily Gladstone deliver two of the year’s best performances.

What I ultimately appreciate is that this entire all-star cast knows how to tone it down in Reichardt’s style, delivering performances that feel true to real life. Without getting hit over the head, we feel what these women feel: pent up anger, loneliness, the desire to connect with anyone in a vast world. Christopher Blauvelt’s cinematography reflects this idea, his camera making use of the expansive Montana landscapes to contrast with the intimacy of the stories. He’s not doing anything flashy here, as that wouldn’t really fit what Reichardt is trying to accomplish. This is a film about everyday life in all its mundanities and frustrations, as well as the glimmer of hope that might appear out of nowhere.

GRADE: B

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