MPAA Rating: R // Rating:
Release Year: 2008 // Director: Kelly Reichardt
There’s a moment about halfway through this brief masterpiece when Wendy is writing up a lost dog poster. The camera eases in over her left shoulder, giving us a glimpse at the bold Sharpie letters scrawled at the top of the page: I’M LOST.
We know she’s advertising the disappearance of her golden lab, Lucy. It’s Lucy’s picture on the poster and a description that can only belong to a dog below. And yet, for a brief moment around which the film seems to pivot, the double meaning is heartbreaking.
Little is revealed about Wendy (Michelle Williams, in a predictably understated-yet-remarkable performance) besides her first name and that she’s from Indiana and bound for Alaska. “There are jobs there,” she tells the security guard at Walgreens.
Her car breaks down somewhere in Oregon, and while trying to figure out how to make what’s left of her $600 trip budget stretch to cover the repairs, she gets caught trying to steal a couple cans of dog food for Lucy. I don’t make it a habit of cursing in my reviews, but seriously—fuck that stock boy and manager.
Aside from some beautiful establishing shots early on, most of the film is shot fairly closely, giving us an intimate portrait of Wendy. Often we only hear, rather than see, the other characters, as Reichardt focuses our attention on Wendy and her reactions rather than their actions.
It’s this intimacy that captivates for the entire eighty-minute runtime, leaving us with a touching, slow-moving story about companionship, choices, circumstances, and loss.