Sunday, December 28, 2008

Michelle and Reichardt on "Wendy & Lucy"

    Michelle Williams at the "Wendy and Lucy" premiere.

    "Williams was already known for making her own choices — she worked with Wim Wenders on Land of Plenty, and she’s far from the only Hollywood actor who crosses the line between studio and independent films more or less at will. But it’s a rare bankable star who lends her name to a tiny project budgeted at $300,000 and shot over 18 days with a mostly volunteer crew by a director whose name, had Williams bothered to ask permission from her agents, would doubtless have inspired the response “Who?”

    Wendy and Lucy, which opened last week, has already earned rapturous notices and shown up on several early 10 Best lists. Williams’ wattage has surely helped, but the poetically minimalist film, which sets the young woman’s plight against the polluted beauty of the Pacific Northwest landscape, is unnervingly timely in its evocation of an American Dream of self-improvement that quickly sours into a struggle for material and spiritual survival. The story, co-written by Reichardt and Jon Raymond from Raymond’s short story Train Choir, was inspired by tales of post–Hurricane Katrina displacement. But the direction it took was shaped by Reichardt’s encounter, while scouting for a location in Texas, with a middle-aged Mexican woman whose car had blown a tire and landed in a ditch. The woman was in her socks, her cell phone minutes had expired, she had $20 to her name, and the blown tire was her only spare. Reichardt drove her to the next exit, paid for the tow truck, came back with her and marveled as a policeman worried more about her safety than the woman’s. “I was really impressed with how unhysterical she was, and how she expected nothing from authority,” says Reichardt. Michelle Williams was spotted reading a magazine during her stroll around Brooklyn on 9th December.

    Barely recognizable in a lusterless brown pudding-basin haircut and a faded sweatshirt over cutoff jeans and flannel shirt, Williams plays Wendy Carroll, an Indiana native stranded in a decaying former mill town in Oregon when her ancient car breaks down and she loses her beloved dog. Her delicate features set in the determined mask of one who’s resolutely avoiding looking at the big picture of her life because she has to focus on the next fire she has to put out to stay afloat, Wendy pilfers food from a supermarket, fumes silently under inept fingerprinting by a policeman, scours the pound for her pet, sleeps rough in a park (where she is screamed at by a wild-eyed Larry Fessenden) and reluctantly accepts help from a kindly drugstore security guard. Wendy says little, but her lonely desperation shows in a flicker of the eyes and the tension gathering in her wiry body. “Michelle was the one actress I couldn’t totally picture in the role of Wendy”, says Reichardt. “To have someone with some mystery to them is very intriguing to me. I also didn’t know completely what a physical actress Michelle is, and when I saw how she uses her body, that was pretty exciting. She can be really, really still.” Williams’ performance is so inward it can’t even be called gestural, yet it’s a devastating portrait of a lonely woman trying to keep her already tenuous life from sliding off a cliff. For all her early independence and her current success, Williams can come across tentative and self-questioning. “When you saw the completed film, what did you think?” Reichardt asks. “It went down the easiest of any film that I see myself in,” says Williams. She’s disarmingly frank about her own insecurities, denies being a big star, and there’s a touch of wistfulness in her insistence that “this is always the way I wanted to work, through friends, to build up a thing that doesn’t disappear after a year. You set up so many little lives in movies and you say you’ll keep in touch and you don’t. So I was really pleased when Todd said, ‘What about Kelly?’ There’s a connectedness and a stability or something.” For now, though, she’s taking time off work to be a full-time single parent to her equally feisty daughter, a difficult but satisfying task. “And I have my coffee-shop parents and my single-mom parents,” she says gratefully. “That’s one of the best things about becoming a mom. There’s suddenly this uprising of women who say, ‘We’re here to help you!’ And Matilda’s in school so I have time during the day to do the things I need to do and get ready for dinner, so it’s not 24/7,” she says. “I’m not quite ready to give up working, but I don’t know how to do the good balance of it. That’s the challenge, to live in the chaos. I’m a Virgo, very ‘clean space, clean mind,’ so after she goes to bed every night I pick the house up. I do think that domestic work can actually be creative and relaxing, freeing your mind. I’ve given myself the grace period". Source: www.laweely.comSource URL:
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