Adapted by a collection of short stories by Maile Meloy, the latest film by American director Kelly Reichardt won Best Film at last year’s London Film Festival, with one of its stars highlighted’ film critics worldwide. However, with six feature films under her belt and her name more associated with independent features, can Certain Women gain her more widespread recognition?
The film follows the lives of three women living in Nebraska, namely lawyer Laura (Laura Dern), wife and mother Gina (Michelle Williams) and rancher Jamie (Lily Gladstone).
Divided into three sections, Reichardt focuses on the respective troubles of the three women. Leading relatively lonely lives, their interactions with others feel strained and almost unwanted. Like the isolation of its picturesque landscape, they mostly come across as cold and unemotive, and the lack of anything eventful makes uncomfortable viewing. This doesn’t help Reichardt’s screenplay, which keeps dialogue at a minimum and gives very little (if anything) to relate to.
It is a shame as the leading ladies are capable of doing so much more, but they have very little to do. As this film follows their everyday lives, the overall tone is pretty mundane. The only spark of interest is Gladstone, whose character Jamie is actively interested in building a connection with someone – namely law teacher Beth (Kristen Stewart) – but its slow development and cut-and-dry resolution feels like a wasted opportunity.
On the plus side, the cinematography by DP Christopher Blauvelt is beautiful and a complex performance from Jared Harris, who plays Laura’s disgruntled client, does lift things in the first third, but that’s really it.
While it looks pretty in places and its formidable cast, Certain Women just hasn’t got enough to keep my attention. It’s a darn shame.
Thanks for reading.