Other posters made some comments about the film in the “Last Film You Saw” thread, and I wanted to respond to them here.
Joks said, Wendy and Lucy – 5/10.
nothing to say about this one really. seemed ike an exercise in facile realism to me. Williams wasn’t bad, but to me i never got the sense she internalised her character all that well. but i understand i’m in a minority on this.
To me the film was just too simplistic. i understand that’s part of its appeal but it didn’t work for me. I thought it was really one dimensional. It’s not gritty enough to work on that level of realism it’s striving for imo, and it’s not really artful enough to work on an impressionist level either. I just thought it was ordinary basically. Neither here nor there.
I can understand that comment by Joks, but since I thought highly of the film I wanted to share my thoughts and see if that might alter Joks’ perception.
Imo, the film takes a “reductionist” approach—not only stripping down the story to something situational (e.g., a girl trying to make it to Alaska)—but stripping down the material and social resources of the character. The latter allows viewers to experience what it’s like to not really have any money or people you can rely on. (In the other thread, Robert remarks that we experience the narrative through the character—and maybe this is what he’s getting at.). What’s the big deal about that? The big deal, imo, is that ordinary situations become highly dramatic, poignant or even suspenseful. In the film, every time Wendy meets a man, I was a little on edge, never knowing if the man would try to take advantage or her or hurt her. When some of them act with kindness, I found this to be touching. What surprised me was how simple acts of kindness could be so poignant—e.g., the man offering Wendy the use of his cell phone or even giving her a few dollars. It is clear the guy doesn’t have a lot of money, and that giving the money away could get into trouble, so I found the gesture really moving. Then there’s the hunt for her dog. I found the search to be really suspenseful and riveting—just because, given her circumstances, that dog is the only friend or emotional support she has.
What I loved about the film was the way it charged all these mundane moments with drama; the way it allowed to me see and experience the world through someone with very little material and social support.
Finally, one other thing. I liked the ending of her in the train heading to Alaska—and the notion of “Alaska” as a kind of hope. It speaks to the importance of having hope in the future or some goal, and how that can keep us going.
“The latter allows viewers to experience what it’s like to not really have any money or people you can rely on. (In the other thread, Robert remarks that we experience the narrative through the character”
I would add to that, though, that we also get minimal interpretive framework from which to “experience” the narrative, including minimal backstory, minimal verbalization, etc., we’re limited to experiencing things through her, but we are also limited in our ability to identify (in the conventional dramatic sense) with here by the relative objectivity of Reichardt’s approach. We are not being asked to BE her so much as we are to EMPATHIZE WITH her.
…but we are also limited in our ability to identify (in the conventional dramatic sense) with here by the relative objectivity of Reichardt’s approach. We are not being asked to BE her so much as we are to EMPATHIZE WITH her.
I’m not clear on what you mean by this, Matt. Can you go into this a little more? Are you saying that if we had more backstory and details, that would hinder our ability to empathize with her?
“with here by the relative objectivity of Reichardt’s approach. We are not being asked to BE her so much as we are to EMPATHIZE WITH her.”
Objectivity as a mode of Empathy Building? I don’t follow.
Empathy involves recognition and sharing of emotion/experience in others, yet we remain ourselves. Identification is more like a psychological cohabitation with a character.
(In the other thread, Robert remarks that we experience the narrative through the character”)
mmmmm……. what I said:…..the film isn’t asking us to ‘side with her’ just participate in her situation.….one can not read the narrative through her but experience it with her.
I’m surprised this film didn’t have thread before this.
^ That’s more like what I’m saying.
heh that IS what I said before translated into ‘Jazzian’.
Knew there was an old thread about this lying around.
I don’t think the film relies on your empathy for the girl, so much as the helplessness and vulnerability of her situation.
^I remember that old thread!
Remember the good old days when you could actually make this statement: “I love all of David Gordon Green’s films”. Man, those were good times.
PS – I miss KJ.
Robert said, ..the film isn’t asking us to ‘side with her’ just participate in her situation.
….one can not read the narrative through her but experience it with her.
Sorry Robert, I thought I could get close enough to what you meant based on my memory. For me, I see the two as closely relate. If I experience the narrative with her, I can’t help but “side with her” in some way.
Jirin said, I don’t think the film relies on your empathy for the girl, so much as the helplessness and vulnerability of her situation.
What’s the difference though?
(@Matt, I went to the film’s page, but there wasn’t any threads, so I just started this one.)
Wouldn’t one have to empathize with said helplessness and vulnerability in order for it to be meaningful, Jirin? It’s not a science experiment.
You either find it interesting, or you don’t. I just didn’t buy it, it’s that simple. didn’t like the look of the film, the performances(Williams are just OK imo) etc etc. The scene where the man approaches her at night had the potential to be interesting, but fell flat, like the rest of the film did for me personally.
I have no idea why this film was hyped so much by American critics. if was more of a cynic i’d say it’s because the director is female and that American indie cinema is in dire straits ;-) But obviously people related to this film in a way that i didn’t.
I’m all for Bahrani though. i much preferred Man Push Cart and Chop Shop to this one.
“But obviously people related to this film in a way that i didn’t.”
I’m guessing Joks never owned a dog. :)
" I went to the film’s page, but there wasn’t any threads, so I just started this one."
No worries, that one didn’t get too far, anyhow . . . I just like to cross-reference.
I mean, just like Taste Of Cherry doesn’t rely on you empathizing with the man (Only unlike ToC, it permits you to). I find Wendy and Lucy most appealing on an intellectual level. If you don’t have any money, you are quite simply on your own. If you commit even the most innocent of crimes you will be treated like a criminal. If people want to help you, they will only help you in marginal ways that don’t inconvenience them much. A lot of people will empathize with you, but that empathy won’t feed you or protect you from the great roulette.
there was a great line in the film and im not sure im getting it right but i think it went like, you cant get a job without having an address and you cant get an address without having a job.
this film is about where a lot of people in the united states are at now…trying to find work, no home, no friends,etc. The best example i could think of is that films have consistently looked at groups that are marginalized, we are in a time in america where anyone can be on the brink…we are all one paycheck away from hitting the skids and that’s not even an option anymore. where do you go and who do you go to when you have absolutely nothing?
wendy and lucy is just about a woman who has nothing except her dog and her car and is trying to find a new life in alaska. empathy has a lot to do with this film and if you cant understand what its like to be poor then, yes you will probably find this film incredibly boring.
i think this is an amazing movie and now, very relevant with the occupy movement…
I loved this movie, I found it incredibly emotional, and for me it had nothing to do with the current economy or the fact that it was directed by a woman. This woman would’ve hit me hard even if it was made ten years ago, even if it was made by a man. I understand the connection to where this country is right now but it’s a mistake to think that this woman couldn’t exist at any time, whether unemployment is at 10% or 4%. Yes, the fact that this country is in the shits may make it easier for people to relate to Wendy’s situation – but my feeling is that you should be able to find empathy with this character regardless. That’s the achievement here from Reichardt – it’s a timeless human drama.
I found there to be an element of wanderlust and something about the space between desire and the new frontier. So yes, that inbetween space: you cant get a job without having an address and you cant get an address without having a job.
I agree with the statement “You can’t get a job without having an address and you can’t get an address without having a job”. (Not sure what that statement has to do with the Occupy movement though).
The film is really about how, if you’re in that situation, you’re just kind of on your own. I disagree with the statement that everybody is just one paycheck away from that, not if you’ve saved some of your money.
“I agree with the statement “You can’t get a job without having an address and you can’t get an address without having a job”. (Not sure what that statement has to do with the Occupy movement though).”
Is that still true with cell phones?
great discussion people, but i’m still not sure how i feel about Jazz using quotes of mine as source material ;-)
If you can’t afford an address, how can you afford a cell phone? I suppose you could access a gmail account from the library, and it might be able to find some free VOiP software. But still, I think the stigma of homelessness would make it really difficult to get a job.
i probably shouldn’t write this but… i couldn’t help wondering why she didn’t take up with some man to get her over the rough patch. i was puzzled by that but definitely admired her will to avoid it. did anyone else have this feeling? it beats starving and she could probably keep her dog. yeah, i know i’m a horrible person :P
i know right? sorry
i am evil :(
in my defense i did like the film and the dog made me cry
I mean, just like Taste Of Cherry doesn’t rely on you empathizing with the man
Well, that’s a different situation. You don’t know what the man’s situation really is. Why is he picking up these people? This question helps draw the viewer into the film. With WaL, the viewer can determine the situation fairly quickly and once that occurs, I think it’s hard not to empathize with her. (Having said that, there was an audience discussion after the film, and one lady wasn’t very sympathetic with Wendy, almost blaming her for not planning things well…but that’s another story.)
i couldn’t help wondering why she didn’t take up with some man to get her over the rough patch. i was puzzled by that but definitely admired her will to avoid it. did anyone else have this feeling?
From what I recall, I got the sense that she was escaping (maybe from a guy; maybe from her family or both) and trying to start a new life on her own. So getting a bf would go against that.
Re: the dog
In normal circumstances, losing a dog could be really emotionally traumatic, but in the Wendy’s situation, it’s even more emotional because she really doesn’t have anyone else in her life. So, yeah. I don’t know if I cried, but I really felt for her.