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Look out for more coverage of
Wendy and Lucy in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Wendy and Lucy

THE STARS:
Michelle Williams
DIRECTOR: Kelly Reichardt

Lucy and Wendy (Michelle Williams) THE CONCEPT:
Wendy Carroll (Williams) is driving to Ketchikan, Alaska, hoping to work all summer at the Northwestern Fish cannery, which will enable her to start a new life with her dog, Lucy. When her car breaks down in Oregon, the thin fabric of her financial situation comes apart, and she is faced with increasingly dire decisions with far-ranging repercussions for herself and Lucy.

U.S. RELEASE: December 10 2008, Limited • Rated: R

THE COMMENTS:

MICHELLE WILLIAMS:
Alfred Molina“At first this came to me in short story form (Train Choir by Jon Raymond), and I kept it by my bed. I sort of slept next to it for a while, kind of like when you’re a teenager and you put a school book underneath your pillow like the information will seep into your brain by osmosis. I had a little bit of a relationship like that, like maybe it would come into some sort of dream world or something. And then the script came through, and it was a really natural decision that I made; I called my agent one day and said, ‘I’m going to Portland, I’ll be there for the month of August.”

KELLY REICHADT on what she saw in Michelle that she knew she was right for the role:
“I remember the day I saw Brokeback Mountain, I thought, ‘Oh, I must be like a ton of filmmakers right now that are seeing this performance going, ‘Wow, who’s she?’” I knew who she was already, but I went on a re-discovering of Michelle, and I saw everything that she did. So I had the idea in my head, but I didn’t know if I was going to get her. This movie completely relied on her performance; she’s in almost every frame. And it relied on someone who could be so still and have something just come through. And the first day of shooting together, I looked through the lens while Michelle was doing a scene, and I was like, ‘I have many things to fear, but this is not one of them.’”

WILLIAMS on working with Lucy, who is actually Kelly’s dog:
Lucy“She was a completely untrained animal. There were many things that were in the story, especially our final moment together, so many really beautiful things in the script about the way she arches her back and the way the sunlight hits her coat, and none of that happened.”

REICHADT:
“When we were shooting with Lucy, I had to be by the monitor and move away from the camera. If I was in her view somewhere it would make her cry, she would look around for me. In the first shot of the movie I screwed myself by being a little too close to the camera, and Lucy just wandered around. But usually Michelle and Lucy were playing together, so they were pretty engaged.”

WILLIAMS:
“It was the relationship I had to learn about, because I don’t have a dog, and I haven’t had a dog since I was a kid. Being alone is different than being alone with a dog. So I spent time with Lucy to kind of get inside what that feels like, you’re alone but there’s comfort there. Animals are so therapeutic for trauma or bad times. So I was interested in how somebody behaves when they’re outside the human contact, and outside of self-consciousness.”

REICHADT on whether Lucy is a symbol for something else:
“She’s not a symbol to me. She’s a companion for someone who doesn’t have a lot of social skills. I don’t see her as having a big symbolic role.”

WILLIAMS on creating a back story for the character that is not mentioned in the movie:
“I just didn’t want to feel like a phony when I showed up. I think that’s how you fill space and silence, you have a sense of history for the character so that you can be still but not empty.”

REICHADT on the timeliness of the movie:
“It’s amazing that the entire world economy crashed on our behalf for the film. Our first thought was we’re going to make a film about the economy, but that was before things were even this bad. It was about this ever-present divide of feeling the huge gap between the rich and the poor, and some of the response from Katrina of ‘you should have never let yourself be that vulnerable in the first place.’ So we started with this idea, if you were a person that had the wherewithal and the gumption to pull yourself up and make your situation better, and you were smart enough to realize there was an opportunity around you, could you without benefit of education, a social net, a family net, improve your situation? That was the seed of the idea.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Wendy and Lucy site
Images above © Oscilloscope Pictures
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #701, December 2008 cover

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