Certain Women: NZIFF Review
Slow film is in many ways Kelly Reichardt's MO.
After Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, her latest, despite the wondrous Montana Mountains backdrop, may leave many pondering the point of the film in the first place.
Pulling together a triptych of stories involving women, Certain Women feels slight in its narrative weights, a loosely connected tapestry that struggles to engage.
From Laura Dern's lawyer called on to help a wronged client to Michelle Williams' wanting of sand stone from a nearby house, there is only the thinnest of pretexts to connect the two. (It's more than the mountains that join the two, but only just).
Fortunately the last section with Laura Gladstone, a ranch hand who latches onto Kristen Stewart's night school teacher has a relatively understated punch that lands as it should. Using looped and repeated rhythms of her daily routine, Reichardt brings a palpable sense of joy to their interaction and an understanding of why Gladstone's character has fallen so headstrong and utterly for her. It's quiet to say the least, but the mosey nearly was worthy of a jump out of the seat fist pump kind of moment.
Which is why the rest of this adaptation of a trio of short stories from Montana writer Maile Meloy feels potentially like it falls short.
The evocative landscape is wonderfully woven into the fabric, but the rest of the tapestry feels less focused and more blurred to the naked eye as this study of flaws plays out.
Not a mess by any stretch of the imagination, Certain Women will work best if its lyrical quixotic edges wash over you - but be paying attention for the final story, as among the terrifically shot and evocative Montana mountain background, that's worth the price of admission alone.