Friday, April 10, 2009

Wendy and Lucy (Rhoades)

“Wendy and Lucy” – the Story Of a Woman and her Dog

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

My wife loves animals, in particular our old dog Glitch. He was dropped off by our son for a two-week stay some ten years ago. After about three months she emailed him: “The statute of limitations has run out. You’re not getting your dog back. If you try to claim him, the next time you’ll see him will be on the side of a milk carton with my picture.”

Sure, she was kidding (I think). But she had fallen in love with this big yellow hunk of half-lab, half-retriever. He was a longtime member of our family, succumbing to old age two years ago.
So I wasn’t surprised when she cried while watching my screener copy of “Wendy and Lucy” – the story of a woman and her dog – now playing at the Tropic Cinema.

It’s a touching tale of a woman-on-the-verge who sets out for Alaska with her sweet yellow pooch. She’s hoping for a job in a fishing cannery, one of those dreams of a happier future, like Steinbeck’s characters extolled in “Of Mice and Men.”

However, the message here is that life isn’t easy and Wendy faces a series of tribulations: Her car breaks down, she gets arrested for shoplifting dog food, a robber besets her, and – worst of all – Lucy goes missing.

“Wendy and Lucy” is sad little movie. Things don’t ever seem to pan out. Despite the kindness of a security guard (Wally Dalton), she must deal with an officious supermarket worker (John Robinson), an unhelpful pound employee (Ayanna Berkshire), and a cranky garage mechanic (Will Patton).

Wendy is superbly played by Michelle Williams (yes, the Academy Award-nominated actress who has a child by the late Heath Ledger, her co-star in “Brokeback Mountain). Lucy the dog plays herself.

Based on Jonathan Raymond’s short story “Train Choir,” director Kelly Reichardt has crafted a minimalist movie that captures the emptiness and angst of those people who fall through the cracks in our society.

We root for Wendy. But she’s symbolic of all the Americans who have lost their jobs, and perhaps any hope of ever achieving that elusive American dream, disenfranchised, yet moving painfully forward toward a mythological Alaska without any chance of arriving intact.
[from Solares Hill]

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