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Certain Women

3 short stories of strong women living in Montana whose lives intersect in subtle and not so subtle ways. Laura Dern plays Laura, a lawyer who is having an affair with a married man and is dealing with a particularly troubled client; Michelle Williams plays Gina, a married woman who appears disconnected from her husband and daughter; and the Rancher, played by Lily Gladstone and Elizabeth, a young lawyer played by Kristen Stewart. It is a difficult film to describe; there is really no plot per se, but the films by Kelly Reichardt typically don’t rely on well-defined plot and action. Rather, her films tend to be very intense character studies (I am thinking of Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Crossing in particular) that require patient watching as the power of the characters slowly unfold in amazing ways. Hers are films that psychologists might particularly enjoy; this one is no exception.  I loved it; the acting is brilliant and masterful by all 4 women.  Of the three stories, I found the story of Elizabeth and the Rancher to be the most fulfilling, and I thought the acting by the two of them to be the best and most powerful of the film.  The cinematography is gorgeous; there is a style of filmmaking here that is unique to this director and makes for powerful storytelling. Big thumbs up from me, although I recognize this movie is not for everyone and will appeal to those who like artistry and can patiently follow the unfolding of the richness of the characters. I would love to hear from women who viewed this and who really liked it to get their take. There are parts of the film that seem to capture the essence of being a woman.

About Gary Burkholder

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