Certain Women

From the critically acclaimed independent director Kelly Reichardt, Certain Women is a very subdued independent drama that follows the lives of three women living in Montana. The film is definitely not for everyone because it is very much an artsy performance-driven movie whose plot is very slow pace and melodramatic. It is separated into three acts in which the characters really do not intersect besides their stories taking place in and around the frontier town of Livingston, Montana. The first story follows a lawyer played by Laura Dern who is representing a local man going through a particularly difficult time after suffering a work-related injury. Her character is eventually enlisted to get her increasingly desperate client out of a hostage-taking situation. Rather abruptly, the film shifts to the next story, which revolves around a husband and wife played by Michelle Williams trying to build their own house. There is some apparent tension between her character and their daughter who is increasingly resentful of living in a tent as they gather construction supplies. Williams’ character drives a hard bargain with an elderly man who is in possession of a stockpile of sandstone they want for the house. Finally, we meet a young Native American ranch hand, portrayed by Lily Gladstone, living by herself in the middle of nowhere as she tends horses. Like all the other female protagonists, she feels very isolated and depressingly lonely and tries to find a way to connect with others. She begins to develop a fondness for a young lawyer played by Kristen Stewart who teaches a local class about education law. In what could be best described as the movie’s epilogue, the filmmaker briefly revisits each of the stories to reach some semblance of a resolution, albeit rather open-ended. Overall, I appreciated the ability of the filmmaker to weave three slightly connected stories of strong-willed everyday working women against a rather bleak yet beautiful background of rustic Montana. Definitely requiring an acquired taste, the film feels more like a poem reflecting on ordinary life and isolation and is not like your typical narrative film.

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