Robin was in Vancouver and I was missing female energy, so I decided to see “Certain Women,” which has a 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating and received a fine review from the L.A. Times. The screenplay, by Writer/Director Kelly Reichardt, is adapted from three short stories by Maile Meloy. Each vignette can stand on its own, but they are loosely connected and all take place in a small Montana town.
I liked the first segment the best, which stars Laura Dern as Laura Wells. Laura has a lover, but the guy doesn’t seem to be very into her. She is a local attorney stuck with a client from hell, Fuller (Jared Harris), who has suffered a brain injury from a construction accident. He is depressed, enraged, and feels “no one understands!” He was injured due to negligence, but has no legal recourse anymore because he accepted a prior – but woefully inadequate – settlement. His marriage is falling apart do to his neurological and psychological state and financial problems, since he can’t work. Laura has told him many times that there is nothing she can do for him, but he just doesn’t get it. Eventually, this situation gets out of hand.
The second story stars Michelle Williams as Gina Lewis. She is building a custom family (husband and daughter) home. The marriage, however, has a problem that a new home won’t fix. Gina would like to use sandstone for one wall and wants to purchase it from an elderly neighbor, Albert (Rene Auberjonois). Albert lives alone in the middle of nowhere and has considerable cognitive slippage.
The finale stars Lily Gladstone (Jamie) and Kristen Stewart (Beth Travis). Jamie works on a ranch in the winter taking care of the horses. Her only other companion is her dog. By accident, she joins a course on school law, being taught by a young lawyer (Beth). Beth thought the town was located near her law firm, but it is a four hour drive (each way) that she has to make two evenings per week. She needs the money from the teaching to pay off her law school loans. Jamie shows Beth where the local diner is after the first class and they start having dinner together after each class.
I didn’t know what the underlying theme of the film was while I was watching it, but, while driving home, my “Brain Jukebox” played “Eleanor Rigby,” “Only the Lonely,” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” so how lonely and isolated we are may at least be one of the themes. (Laura, Fuller, Albert, and Jamie are all very lonely.) On the other hand, I could have been feeling lonely because Robin was away and I was just projecting my loneliness onto the material!
Although the Director is obviously talented, the film was way too slow for me. The characters are not well developed either, except for the first story, so I can’t recommend the movie, even as a rental.